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New Low Emission Zones to charge polluting cars

Here are the new plans for low emission zones in 2021. Is your city on the list?

Sign for low emission zone

Low emission zones are areas in a city which charge high-polluting vehicles to enter. 

So what are the plans for low emission zones? And how might they affect you? 

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What is a low emission zone or clean air zone?

A low emission zone (LEZ), or clean air zone (CAZ), aims to reduce pollution levels and improve air quality.

They're often found in areas with high levels of air pollution – usually towns or city centres.

 

What vehicles will be affected by clean air zones?

In most cases, you pay to go through these zones if your vehicle has high emissions. If you don’t pay the fee, you may be hit by a penalty charge notice (PCN).

Most fees apply to diesels built before September 2015. Usually these vehicles don't meet emissions standards.

In some cases, fees don't apply to petrol cars built after January 2006.

Electric vehicles – as well as certain hybrids and other vehicles with zero emissions – won't have to pay to enter these areas. This is one of the many benefits of owning an electric vehicle.

 

Why are low emission zones being introduced?

It’s all part of a wider strategy by the government to improve air quality across the UK. It ties in with the plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

 

Which cities are enforcing low emission zones?

A number of places are planning on introducing and expanding low emission zones or clean air zones, including:

London

The ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) is in London, covering all vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards. For more information check out our guide on the ULEZ.

In 2021, the ULEZ is extending to create a larger zone, with the North Circular Road (A406) and the South Circular Road (A205) acting as its boundaries.

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the emissions standards, you’ll be charged a daily fee, which can be up to £100 for some larger vehicles.

You can check if your vehicle meets emission standards on the Transport for London website.

 

Birmingham

Birmingham’s CAZ operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

You can enter the zone with no charge if your vehicle is:

  • A moped or motorcycle.
  • A diesel vehicle minimum standard Euro 6.
  • A petrol vehicle minimum standard Euro 4.
  • A vehicle with zero emissions (electric, hydrogen).
  • A low emissions vehicle.

Cars that don't meet emission standards will pay £8 per day. 

You can see the area the CAZ covers on Birmingham City Council’s website

Residents with a car registered within the CAZ will be exempt from the charge for two years. For a full list of exemptions, visit #brumbreathes

The council has support available to help people adjust to the CAZ, including a £1,000 mobility credit and a £2,000 scrappage scheme.

 

Oxford

Oxford’s zero emission zone is due to come into force in 2021.

Only 100% zero emission vehicles will be able to be used in the zone free of charge.

Other vehicles will be allowed in the zone but will be charged between £2 and £10 per day to drive in the zone between 7am and 7pm.

The zone will cover five streets in the centre of Oxford to begin with. 

 

Bristol

Bristol's clean air zone hasn’t been rolled out yet.

But when it is, cars that don’t meet the emissions standards will have to pay £9 a day to drive in it. Larger vehicles, including HGVs, will have to pay £100 a day.

 

Scotland

Low emission zones are planned for Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It’s expected that they’ll come into force in early 2022 but this deadline keeps changing.

You can find full details of all of the LEZs on the Low Emission Zones Scotland website.

 

Where are Europe’s low emission zones?

There are now more than 200 cities across Europe that have low emission zones, where high-polluting vehicles are either banned or have to pay a charge to enter.

There’s no one-size-fits-all, as some of the LEZs apply to all vehicles while others apply only to larger vehicles.

So if you’re planning to drive abroad, it’s worth checking out the websites of the cities you’re visiting. That way you find out in advance what it’ll cost you – and if you’ll even be allowed in!