Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is now in force.
The scheme, which effectively excludes the most polluting vehicles from the city centre, protects public health by tackling unacceptably high levels of harmful air pollution that have stubbornly persisted in areas of the zone.
From today (1 June) all vehicles entering Glasgow’s LEZ must meet the less-polluting emission standards or face a penalty charge.
Glasgow’s LEZ is the first to come into force in Scotland. It follows the initial, bus-only phase of the scheme which, since 2018 has seen a year-on-year improvement in the proportion of low or zero emission buses servicing the city centre.
Cllr Angus Millar, Convener for Climate and Transportsaid: “I am proud that Glasgow has fully rolled out the first of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones, joining hundreds of cities across Europe who have introduced similar initiatives in ensuring cleaner, more breathable air.
“Glasgow has made great strides in tackling air pollution in recent years, thanks in no small part to the success of the first phase of our LEZ, which has led to all buses running through our city centre meeting the less-polluting emission standards. But we still have stubbornly high air pollution levels in the city centre, which have been in breach of legal limits for decades now, and that poor air quality is actively harming Glaswegians’ health; creating and exacerbating people’s health conditions and the city’s health inequalities, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable.
“While the vast majority – up to 90% – of vehicles currently entering the city centre will be unaffected, the LEZ standards will address the small minority of vehicles which pollute the most, disproportionately creating the harmful concentrations of air pollution. And by ensuring cleaner air, we can create a safer and more pleasant experience for everyone who lives, works and visits Glasgow city centre.”
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition Màiri McAllan said: “I’m pleased to welcome the wider enforcement of Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone in Glasgow. Air pollution from vehicles disproportionally impacts the most vulnerable in our society. It causes the most damage to the youngest, the oldest and people with pre-existing medical conditions. LEZs are an important tool in protecting public health and improving air quality – while at the same time protecting our environment by reducing harmful emissions and encouraging a shift to more sustainable transport.
“With the LEZ enforcing buses since 2018, Glasgow has already seen improved air quality. I look forward to welcoming further improvements in air quality through this wider enforcement – with Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh following next year.”
Gareth Brown, Chair of Healthy Air Scotland and Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Asthma + Lung UK Scotland added:”With 1 in 5 Scots developing a lung condition like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in their lifetime, for them, air pollution can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks and flare-ups.
“Air pollution in Glasgow is shockingly 4.5x World Health Organisation (WHO) levels, so it is clear that we need to make tackling air pollution a national priority with Low Emission Zones just the start.
“Our cities must be redesigned to be far healthier places, where people can walk and cycle and not forced to breathe in toxic levels of air.”
Operation of Glasgow’s LEZ
Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone will operate continuously – 24 hours a day, all year round.
The zone covers 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 Street to the east. The motorway itself however is not included.
A vehicle can only drive within a LEZ if it meets the specified emission standards, which are Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans, Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans, and Euro VI for buses, coaches and HGVs.
A national online vehicle checker by Transport Scotland is available to check for compliance with LEZ emission standards.
Motorcycles and mopeds are not included in the current LEZ schemes and no restrictions will apply.
There are some exemptions, such as for blue badge holders, and zone residents have an extra year to prepare.
Transport Scotland has developed an online portal where Blue Badge holders can register vehicles they are travelling in to obtain the required exemptions.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras linked to a national vehicle licencing database will be used to enforce Glasgow’s LEZ. When a non-compliant vehicle is detected in the zone, a Penalty Charge Notice will be issued to the registered keeper.
A scheme surcharge will see the initial penalty charge of £60 double for each subsequent breach detected – subject to a cap of £480 for cars and LGVs, and £960 for buses and HGVs.
In addition to reducing levels of harmful vehicle emissions, Glasgow’s LEZ is also expected to accelerate the uptake of more sustainable forms of transport – helping to tackle the climate emergency, and increase the safety, attractiveness, and amenity of our city centre.
The cities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh will enforce their own LEZ schemes in 2024.