Where are the UK Low Emission Zones?

As governments all over the world make plans to phase out the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, many towns and cities have started to introduce Low Emission Zones (LEZ) to encourage cleaner driving and reduce pollution.

In the UK, sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from 2030. And as we get ever closer to that deadline, many local authorities have already introduced traffic restrictions in the form of Clean Air, Low or Ultra-Low Emission Zones. Find out more about the different rules already in place in different towns and cities below, plus those you should watch out for in future. 

Where are the Low Emission Zones in the UK?

England

London

The UK capital’s eight million residents were already familiar with the Congestion Charge policy put in place back in 2003, but in April 2019, Transport for London went even further by introducing an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for Central London, with a £12.50-per-day charge for motorists using motorbikes, cars, private taxis, small and large vans, and minibuses that don’t meet petrol Euro 4 and diesel Euro 6 standards. For buses, coaches and heavy vehicles over 3.5 tonnes failing to meet Euro 6 standards for both petrol and diesel, the charges are dramatically higher at £100 per day.

Birmingham

As Britain’s second most populous city, Birmingham launched its Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in June 2021 in response to huge commuter numbers entering the city each day. The following standards must be met for vehicles passing through:

  • Diesel, minimum Euro 6
  • Petrol, minimum Euro 4
  • Zero-emissions vehicles such as all-electric and hydrogen.
  • Low-emission hybrids meeting diesel Euro 6 and petrol Euro 4 standard.

There is an £8 charge for private cars and taxis, and a £50 levy for buses, coaches and HGVs that are not up to recognised emissions standards.

    Newcastle

    Newcastle City Council introduced its CAZ in October 2022 and will begin to charge drivers from 30th January 2023. This will only apply to older taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs – private cars will not be affected. Non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will be hit with a £50-a-day toll, while the worst polluting vans and taxis will be charged £12.50 per day.

    Bath

    Bath launched its CAZ in March 2021. It largely affects business-use vehicles like taxis and HGVs, which means you shouldn’t have to pay a fee if you’re driving around in your own car.

    Bristol

    Bristol’s CAZ came into force in November 2022. As with London’s ULEZ, it affects pre-Euro 4 petrol cars and pre-Euro 6 diesels, which have to pay £9 to enter the zone. Non-compliant taxis and light vans face the same charge, while HGVs and buses pay £100.

    Portsmouth

    If you drive a car, motorcycle or van in Portsmouth, then you’re not affected by any emission-based restrictions. Launched in November 2021, the CAZ applies to non-compliant buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and HGVs.

    Bradford

    Launched in summer 2022, Bradford’s CAZ applies to HGVs, LGVs, buses, coaches and private hire vehicles, with costs ranging from £7-£50 a day. It doesn’t yet affect car drivers or motorcyclists.

    Scotland

    Glasgow

    A limited LEZ is already in place, with one in five of the buses using the city centre subject to European emissions standards. An extension to subject all vehicles entering Glasgow’s LEZ to the rules is to be introduced by June 2023.

    In fact, Low Emission Zones (LEZs) were introduced on 31st May 2022 in Scotland’s four biggest cities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow). Local grace periods now apply until enforcement begins.

    • Dundee will start enforcement on 30th May 2024.
    • Aberdeen will start enforcement on 1st June 2024.
    • Edinburgh will start enforcement on 1st June 2024.

    Are there plans for more in the future?

    Manchester

    A proposal was made for a CAZ across Greater Manchester, and this was planned to be introduced in May 2022. However, due to fears about the cost of living crisis and other factors, this plan was rejected. The local authority has now submitted the case for a Clean Air Plan with a no-charging CAZ which will be consulted on in 2023.

    Sheffield

    After plans were put on the back burner due to COVID-19, Sheffield’s CAZ will go live in February 2023. It will affect the most polluting HGVs, LGVs, vans, buses, coaches and taxis that drive in the city centre, with LGVs and taxis paying £10 a day, and coaches, buses and HGVs subject to a £50 fee. Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.

    Liverpool

    After much discussion, plans to introduce a CAZ in Liverpool were eventually rejected due to fears it would be too expensive for drivers. Councillors said the scheme wouldn’t be as effective as first thought and have instead formulated a Clean Air Plan, which includes plans to stop traffic queuing with traffic lights, reviewing bus stop locations and more.

    For a comprehensive list of inner-city zones across the UK and Europe, the EU’s Urban Access Regulations section has an interactive map where you can check dozens of European cities’ lower-emission requirements.

     

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    Photo Credit: Euan Cameron vis Unsplash.com