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13 Jan 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Paying to pollute: new Low Emission Zones for 2020

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In 2020, cities across the UK will be launching Low Emission Zones. Here's how they might affect you. 

Is there a Low Emission Zone in your area? Zoom in on a pin to find out how much of the city the zone covers. Click on the pin to find out more about the zone.

This year, drivers of the most polluting vehicles will have to pay to enter certain areas of the UK.

Last year, London introduced an Ultra-Low Emission Zone. Now, cities across the UK are following suit and introducing Low Emission Zones. 

So what are Low Emission Zones? And how might they affect you? 

Is there a Low Emissions Zone proposed in your city? Let us know what you think in the comments box below

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Low Emission Zones

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.

You pay to go through these zones if your vehicle has high emissions. If you don’t pay the fee, you’ll have to pay a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

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

The fees don't apply to petrol cars built after January 2006.

Electric, hybrid and other vehicles with zero emissions will not have to pay to enter these areas.

Read more: Electric cars: How they work, their pros and cons

Which cities are enforcing Low Emission Zones in 2020?

The following cities are planning on introducing Low Emission or Clean Air Zones, select a city to find out more:

Read more: UK car and van tax bands explained

Birmingham

Birmingham’s CAZ should start on the first of July 2020. It'll operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Cars, taxis, LGVs and minibuses that don't meet emission standards will £8 per day. 

HGVs, coaches and buses will pay £50 per day. 

You can see the area the CAZ covers on the Birmingham Government map

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

Birmingham government has support available to help people adjust to the CAZ. For example, a £1,000 mobility credit or £2000 scrappage scheme.

Bath and North Somerset

Bath and North Somerset will introduce a CAZ in the city centre later this year. 

It'll focus on vehicles with the highest emissions. Private cars and motorcycles will be exempt regardless of emissions

Heavy vehicles, like buses, coaches and HGVs will receive a daily charge of £100. 

Taxis, minibuses, vans, pick-ups and horse boxes will receive a daily charge of £9. 

Again, this will only apply if your vehicle doesn't meet emission standards. 

You can find full details of the zone on the Bath and North East Somerset website

Support is available to reduce the impact of the zone, including a financial help scheme.  

Traffic congestion

York

In 2020, York will introduce a charge to buses that don’t meet strict emission standards. 

Companies won’t be able to run their buses here if they don’t meet emissions standards. 

To further reduce air pollution, York has announced it aims to be a car-free city by 2023. 

Leeds

The CAZ in Leeds was due to happen on 6th of January this year, but it's delayed. The council are hoping to announce a new launch date soon.

HGVs, buses, coaches will have to pay £50 to travel through it. 

Taxis, private hire vehicles and minibuses will pay £12.50. 

The fee only applies if your vehicle doesn’t meet emissions standards. It doesn’t apply to private vehicles.  

The zone focuses on central Leeds, check their website for the full extent of the boundary. 

idling charges

London

London has a LEZ and an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). 

The Low Emission Zones covers most of greater London and operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

The ULEZ is in central London within the same area of the congestion charge zone. It runs at the same time as the LEZ, except for Christmas day. 

It covers all vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards. For more information check out our guide on the ULEZ.

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the emissions standards, then you’ll receive a daily fee. This can be up to £200 for some vehicles. 

Check if your vehicle meets emission standards on the Transport for London website.

In October this year the standards will be tougher for heavier vehicles, so it’s worth checking before you travel.

Read more: Ultra Low Emissions Zone: What does it mean for motorists?

Oxford

Oxford’s proposals for a zero-emission zone were recently approved. It’ll start running in December. 

The following vehicles can use the zero emissions zone:

  • Cars that emit 50 g of CO2/km and drive 70 miles without any emissions. 

  • Vans that emit less than 75 g of CO2/km and drive 10 miles without any emissions

  • Motorcycles and mopeds that don’t emit any CO2 

A full list of vehicles is on the Oxford government website

Vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards will face a charge of £10 between the hours of 7am and 7pm. 

There’ll be a discount for blue badge holders until December 2024. Oxford residents will receive a 90% discount until 2030.

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

In 2021/2022 a Green Zone will expand and cover the rest of the city centre.

Idling

Scotland

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee will have Low Emissions Zones by the end of 2020. 

The Edinburgh LEZ will apply to the city centre for all vehicles. But city-wide for HGVs, LGVs, taxis, vans and private hire vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards.

Glasgow introduced a LEZ in 2018, but it only applies to local service buses. In 2022 it'll apply to all vehicles entering the zone that don't meet emission standards.

Aberdeen's LEZ will cover the city centre. This is where the air quality is poorest.

The boundary for Dundee’s proposed LEZ would be the city’s inner ring road. 

Each of these zones will ban cars that don’t meet emission standards. So Instead of a daily fee, vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards will face a fine.  

Residents in these areas will have a grace period to allow them to find a vehicle that meets emission standards.

You can find full details of Scotland's Low Emissions Zones on the Low Emission Zones Scotland website.

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