Low Emission Zone explained: What is the LEZ coming to Glasgow? How will it be enforced in Glasgow City Centre?

Here’s absolutely everything you need to know before the rules start being enforced this summer
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What is the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Glasgow?

The LEZ is a city-centre wide restriction that will see older vehicles, with emissions that harm the air quality and environment around the city centre.

It will be enforced this summer, and anyone driving an older car that doesn’t meet LEZ standards will be issued a substantial fine - effectively locking out older vehicles from Glasgow City Centre.

Where will the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Glasgow be?

A map of the LEZ boundaries in Glasgow City Centre created by Glasgow City CouncilA map of the LEZ boundaries in Glasgow City Centre created by Glasgow City Council
A map of the LEZ boundaries in Glasgow City Centre created by Glasgow City Council
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The 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 Street to the east.

Which vehicles are compliant to Low Emission Zone requirements?

Emission standards for LEZs in Scotland have been set nationally - these are:

  • Euro 4 for petrol vehicles
  • Euro 6 for diesel vehicles
  • Euro IV for heavy duty petrol vehicles such as buses/coaches and HGVs
  • Euro VI for heavy duty diesel vehicles such as buses/coaches and HGVs

Vehicles which have been appropriately modified or retrofitted to meet or exceed these emission standards will also be permitted entry to the LEZ in Glasgow.

In simpler, more general terms: most diesel engine cars registered after September 2015 are likely to be compliant, and petrol vehicles registered from 2006 onwards are likely to meet the LEZ standards.

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You may be able to find Euro standard information on the inside of your vehicle’s door frame.

For newer vehicles, the Euro standard may be listed on the V5C registration document (log-book).

When will the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Glasgow start being enforced?

The LEZ will begin to be enforced from June 1, 2023 - this means that from the beginning of June, you will be issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) if caught driving a non-compliant car in the city centre.

How can I check if my vehicle meets Low Emission Zone (LEZ) requirements?

You can see if your vehicle is likely to meet LEZ emission standards by using Transport Scotland’s vehicle checker.

How will the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Glasgow be enforced?

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Non-compliant vehicles entering the zone will be identified using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. The LEZ will operate continously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Although the council can temporarily suspend the zone (in full or in part) for events of local/national significance.

How much is the fine (PCN) for breaking Low Emission Zone (LEZ) rules and regulations in Glasgow?

Set at national level by the Scottish Government for consistency across cities, the initial penalty charge for all non-compliant vehicles entering a LEZ in Scotland will be £60 - reduced by 50% if it is paid within 14 days.

However, a scheme surcharge means that the penalty amount will doublewith each subsequent breach of the rules detected in the same LEZ. This means that the second time a non-compliant vehicle is caught in the LEZ, they will be issued with a £120 fine.

Penalty charges are capped at £480 for cars and light goods vehicles, and £960 for buses and HGVs. Where there are no further breaches of the rules detected within the 90 days following a previous violation, the surcharge rate is reset to the base tier of charge which is £60.

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Glasgow City Council claim that all revenue generated from PCNs from the LEZ will be used for activities that help reduce air pollution and/or contribute toward achieving Glasgow’s climate change targets.

What vehicles are exempt from the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) requirements?

All fully electric vehicles meet LEZ requirements in Glasgow. Blue badge holders are also exempt from the LEZ regulations.

Motorcycles and mopeds are unaffected by the LEZ requirements.

Emergency vehicles are also exempt from LEZ restrictions, including: Police, Ambulance Services, Fire and Rescue Services, the Coastguard, and the National Crime Agency.

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Naval, Military, and Air Force vehicles do not need to comply with LEZ restrictions either.

Historic vehicles will also be exempt from the requirements, this means vehicles that:

  • were manufactured, or registered, for the first time at least 30 years previously,
  • is of a type no longer in production, and
  • has been historically preserved or maintained in its original state and has not undergone substantial changes in the technical characteristics of its main components.

Showmen’s vehicles are also exempt thanks to section 62(1) of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994. This means the highly specialised vehicles used by travelling showmen to set up fairgrounds and other attractions.

Can I get an extension on Low Emission Zone (LEZ) requirements in Glasgow?

Certain groups in the city can apply for an extension of up to one year to become compliant with LEZ regulation.

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Zone residents have extra time to prepare for Glasgow’s LEZ. Enforcement for vehicles registered to a residential property within the zone area will not start until 1 June 2024.

There are no plans to propose a general exemption extension for specific vehicles or types of vehicle, public hire taxi operators in Glasgow who are ineligible for a ‘grant funded vehicle retrofit solution’ to achieve emissions compliance may apply for a ‘time limited’ exemption of one year based on vehicle use.

The application form can be found by visiting the Glasgow City Council webpage.

Applications can be made for a temporary exemption whereby the entry of a non-compliant vehicle into the zone is required for a specific, defined purpose which is not otherwise considered in LEZ legislation or regulations.

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Examples may include abnormal loads or machinery transport, or any other non-compliant vehicle use considered appropriate on application to the council.

Why does Glasgow need a Low Emission Zone (LEZ)?

Some signage for the Low Emission Zone in Glasgow, recently put up by Glasgow City CouncilSome signage for the Low Emission Zone in Glasgow, recently put up by Glasgow City Council
Some signage for the Low Emission Zone in Glasgow, recently put up by Glasgow City Council

According to Glasgow City Council - there is enough Nitrogen Dioxide in the air around the city centre to exceed legal requirements.

Inhalation of low concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide can cause mild shortness of breath and a cough; then, after a period of hours to days of constant inhalation, victims may suffer bronchospasm (severe shortness of breath caused by tightening airways) and pulmonary edema (a build-up of fluid in the lungs).

The main source of this pollutant according to the Council is from road traffic - therefore it is hoped that Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone will improve air quality and help protect public health.

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Glasgow City Council also mention that the uptake of less polluting vehicles will encourage people to move away from private car use, which in the council’s words, will ‘increase the safety, attractiveness, and amenity of our city centre.’

What could happen to the Glasgow Taxi trade when the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) starts being enforced?

Taxis in Glasgow, like in most of Scotland, are old vehicles - meaning most of them are not compliant with LEZ standards and will struggle to be retrofitted for less emissions.

With most of the hackneys and taxi vehicles coming up to the city second-hand from London, it would still take a number of years until expensive electric or hybrid cars from London to make their way down to Glasgow at a price the drivers can reasonably afford.

Following on from the pandemic and a massive loss of business, many drivers in Glasgow (who are often older men around or past retirement age) have incurred debt from the lockdown years.

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Paying for a retrofit or a new vehicle would push many drivers further into debt, meaning many drivers will opt to retire from the taxi trade.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Taxis said:“Glasgow Taxis as an organisation has always supported the Low Emission Zone since it was first announced, as who would not want cleaner air in their home city?

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do. So that’s not in question – what is in question is the timing of this given so much has happened since it was first drafted, most notably the pandemic which has had and continues to have huge implications for the trade.

“Glasgow Taxis need more time and our operators and drivers need more support and funding solutions.”

How many Taxis in Glasgow are currently compliant with Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards?

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A spokesperson for public hire Glasgow Taxis said:”In our most recent survey, in November 2022, our information was that just 46% of our fleet was compliant at that moment – up from 31% six months previously.

“That percentage will have risen further since however a sizeable proportion of our fleet remains non-compliant.

“Within that same survey in November, 63% of drivers said they intended to be compliant, 18% said their vehicle was incapable of a retrofit or being repowered to meet requirements, with the remaining 19% stating their intention to leave the trade.

“That final figure is moving fast however it does ultimately represent hundreds of taxis and drivers we cannot afford to lose if we wish to continue to provide a public transport service to the city.”

What is stopping Glasgow taxis from becoming compliant?

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A spokesperson for Glasgow Taxis said:”Finance – almost all taxi operators surveyed said being unable to access suitable finance was the main reason they would be forced to leave the trade.

“There is also a lack of used compliant taxis available on the market, resulting in so many expensive conversions of older vehicles instead.

“The only choice of new vehicle is around £70,000. Drivers were required to finance that having just about survived coming through a pandemic. To introduce a new bill of around £1400 a month into a household is not going to happen for someone in their late 50s, so they will look for the low-cost option.

“Some drivers have opted to modify their taxis to meet the standards, but an estimated 200 cabs are still waiting for that work to be carried out. The exhaust solutions require a contribution from the operator of around £1600 and then the balance of £6000 is paid from public funds by a grant.

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“Once that has happened, they will require to keep that for a further three years.

“For the LPG conversion, which involves a completely new engine, the contribution from the operator is around £2,000, and there’s about £10,000 of a grant. Again, that requires to be kept for a further three years.

“And, at the completion of that three years, it’s still a significant age of vehicle, which is why Glasgow Taxis suggests that that whole funding gets relooked at.

“If we had significantly more time to meet the requirements, and more creative funding solutions available to our operators and drivers, not only would we help Glasgow fulfil its LEZ ambitions but we would at the same time ensure Glasgow can enjoy a sizeable and healthy taxi trade for future years.”

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