Key actions to ready the city for the enforcement of Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) were outlined at the Net Zero and Climate Progress Monitoring Committee.

Ahead of general enforcement which starts on 1 June 2023, a multi-disciplinary working group has been set up to oversee planning for the operational phase of the city centre LEZ – complementing national activity led by Transport Scotland.  

The Committee also heard that:

  • Procurement for camera and back-office solutions is already underway, whilst installation of enforcement infrastructure is advanced and expected to be complete by the end of the year.
  • Official signage for Scottish LEZs has been established at national level and confirmed with all LEZ cities. Suitable signage locations have been determined, with signs to be installed on Glasgow streets as well as on the M8 motorway by December.   
  • Access to vehicle databases for LEZ compliance checks and enforcement is being undertaken at national level and is expected to be in place by the end of the year, allowing for an extended testing period before enforcement.

Operating 24 hours a day, all year round, and enforced by way of penalty charge – Glasgow’s LEZ will cover an area of the city centre bounded by the M8 motorway to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south and Saltmarket/High St to the east.

As vehicles are the main source of the harmful air pollutant nitrogen dioxide, Glasgow’s LEZ is an essential measure to protect public health by tackling the current, illegal levels of air pollution in our city centre. Its design also supports the city’s wider climate change ambitions by encouraging a shift away from private car use towards more sustainable forms of transport.

From 1 June 2023, Glasgow’s LEZ will affect all vehicles driving into the city centre to maximise the health and environmental benefits it can deliver. It builds on the first, bus-only phase, introduced in 2018 which has since seen a much greater proportion of cleaner, low and zero emission buses travelling through our city centre.

Some vehicle types are automatically exempt from LEZs in Scotland, such as emergency vehicles and vehicles for disabled people. Blue badge holders are also exempt. In support of this, the Net Zero Committee heard that Transport Scotland are devising a process that will enable blue badge owners of non-compliant vehicles to register them as such. It will also be possible to register secondary vehicles given blue badge holders are exempt from LEZ requirements in whichever vehicle they travel.

Climate and Transport Convener Cllr Angus Millar said: “There’s a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to ensure that the city is ready for general enforcement of Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone. This includes ensuring that the necessary infrastructure will be in place as well as identifying suitable sites for signage to raise early awareness of the zone area.

“We’ve made good progress in tackling air pollution in recent times, thanks in no small part to the success of the first phase of the LEZ which has greatly improved the emission standards of buses serving the zone area and surrounding streets. We continue to have however, stubbornly high levels of harmful air pollution in some parts of the city centre which is why widening the scope of Glasgow’s LEZ from next year is an essential measure to protect public health.”

“We will continue to raise awareness and understanding of Glasgow’s LEZ ahead of full enforcement, as well as encouraging and supporting compliance through a range of initiatives and projects, including those that inspire a switch to active and more sustainable forms of travel and a reduced reliance on private car.”

John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer at Environmental Protection Scotland said: “Glasgow’s efforts to improve air quality and make the city a healthier place for everyone to live, work and travel will reach a milestone next June.

“The buses-only LEZ has driven forward cleaner, zero-emission public transport in the last three years and we can expect a similar transformation for other vehicles using the city centre following the introduction of full enforcement.

“The city council is working hard to provide alternatives to car use and ownership in the city centre with new cycle-only lanes and safer pedestrian space, such as the Avenues project in Sauchiehall Street and the road-closures in George Square, eBike hubs, better public transport and the roll-out of electric vehicle car clubs.

“We urge all motorists to check the relevant websites to establish whether their vehicles meet LEZ emissions standards, so they are ready when enforcement starts.”

The Net Zero Committee also noted that whilst the council can grant non-compliant vehicles a ‘time-limited’ exemption of up to one year that would allow penalty-free access to the LEZ area, there are no plans to propose a general exemption for any particular vehicles or vehicle types. The council is however proposing to grant a time-limited exemption of one year (based on vehicle use) for taxi operators who do not have access to a grant-funded vehicle retrofit solution to achieve emissions compliance.

The Net Zero Committee noted the contents of the report, which can be accessed by clicking on this link and referred the proposed actions regarding time-limited exemptions for non-funded taxi operators to the City Administration Committee.