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Scotland has introduced Low Emission Zones (LEZs) into its most populated cities

07 June 2024

From sole traders with one vehicle, to larger businesses with varied transportation, we analyse some impacts of the LEZs. The long awaited LEZs are now operating in Scotland. With the primary goal of improving urban air quality, LEZs prevent vehicles which are considered to be the highest polluters from entering a specified area.

In Scotland, the rules governing enforcement, standards and exemptions can be found within the Low Emission Zones (Emission Standards, Exemptions and Enforcement) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.

On 1 June 2023, Glasgow paved the way with the first LEZ enforcement area.

Dundee followed in Glasgow's footsteps from 30 May 2024.   Edinburgh and Aberdeen introduced their low emission zones from 1 June 2024.

This means that vehicles which do not meet the minimum standards set out below, will automatically incur a penalty fine of £60 by entering into the LEZs.

  • Euro 4 standard (generally registered from 2006) for petrol cars and vans;
  • Euro 6 standard (generally registered from September 2015) for diesel cars and vans; or
  • Euro 6 standard (generally registered from January 2013) for buses, coaches and HGVs.

For those who pay within 14 days, the fine will be decreased by 50%.  Enforcement will be 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

However, for repeat offenders, the fine will double each time a subsequent breach of the rules is committed within 90 days of the previous violation. This means that cars and light goods vehicles can face fines of up to £480 per day for repeated breaches with penalties of up to £960 for buses and HGVs for repeated breaches.

Over £1m of fines were issued in Glasgow in the period up to April 2024 but a significant proportion of the earlier fines issued from June until early November 2023 are subject to a legal challenge based on a failure to deliver the penalty notices via a tracked or recorded delivery service.

So, what does this mean for your business?

Companies which conduct business, utilise the roads for deliveries or travel within the LEZs, may require a change of transportation strategy. For example, it is not possible for a non-compliant vehicle to obtain a permit to enter the LEZs, meaning businesses will need to consider if their company vehicles meet the minimum standards, or if they can avoid penalty charges by identifying alternative routes.

First and foremost, we recommend checking that vehicles comply with the required standards. It is important for businesses to familiarise themselves with the LEZ boundaries to be able to identify the risk of penalties. Maps of each LEZ are available on the relevant local authority's website. However, if access is unavoidable, businesses will need to consider the potential amount they would be liable to pay by evaluating how often company vehicles are likely to use the LEZ.

It may also be worth noting that the value of non-compliant vehicles could be decreasing, so switching to LEZ compliant vehicles may be an option to consider. Yet, the current standards are set with a view towards banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2050, so compliance with current standards does not guarantee certainty for the future.

With supply chain challenges continuing within the transport sector, compliant vehicles are taking time to be delivered so planning is key. The Council areas where the LEZs operate are facing issues meeting their own regulations and in some cases have had to hire vehicles that are compliant to enter the LEZs to deliver essential Council services.

If you require any advice to understand more about compliance with these regulations, please contact Caroline Colliston or your usual DWF contact.

Further Reading