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Clearing the Air on Low Emission Zones: What do they mean for Scotland?

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The Scottish Government’s bold new plan for Low Emission Zones (LEZ) in Scotland’s four largest cities has been welcomed by many. However, it has left just as many confused as to what the measures will be.

Despite Scotland having stricter air pollution limits than the rest of the UK, our towns and cities are still pollution hotspots. According to figures from Friends of the Earth, air pollution could be responsible for some 15,000 early deaths in Scotland each year.

What are Low Emission Zones?

First introduced in Sweden in 1996, a LEZ is a fixed area in which the level of air pollution is closely monitored and controlled with access by certain vehicles restricted or deterred. The concept came to Scotland not long afterwards but really took off under the Scottish Government’s recent Transport (Scotland) Bill.

What does it mean for me?

It may mean some changes in the long term – you may need to consider how eco-friendly your car is or how reliable your business is on trade vehicles. Companies like Eagle Couriers who provide delivery services will need to assess their fleet to make sure their operations are not affected.

If you live or work in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Dundee, numerous streets in the city will not be as accessible as they are at the moment. Cars, buses and lorries that fail to meet pollution standards will be banned from city centres.

If you are a driver or work in delivery services, a LEZ will simply be something to be taken into consideration when planning your route. If your vehicle does not adhere to the pollution standards set by the local authority, you may be issued with a fine.

Is my car exempt?

LEZ entry will be based on the Euro emission engine classification standards with the proposed minimum criteria:

• Euro six for diesel cars

• Euro four for petrol cars

• Euro VI for heavy diesel vehicles (including older retrofitted engines which would be improved to operate as Euro VI).

What does it mean for Scotland?

With the First Minister declaring a climate emergency in April, the implementation of LEZs means that positive steps are being taken to improve air quality and decrease pollution in our cities.

It also means that Scotland has set itself apart from the rest of the UK, which currently only has two LEZs in London and Norwich.

For more information on Low Emission Zones in Scotland, visit:

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