Last updated November 10th, 2023
Air quality in UK cities is an ongoing political issue. The Government has introduced Low Emission Zones (LEZs) within numerous cities to help reduce harmful emissions.
Just as with the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Clean Air Zone (CAZ) schemes, daily charges are applied to non-compliant vehicles if they travel within a designated LEZ. These charges are designed to discourage drivers of high-polluting vehicles from travelling within LEZs to help improve air quality for residents.
In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about Low Emission Zones including where they operate, which vehicles are subject to charges – and the key differences between LEZ regulations in different areas.
Low Emission Zones are typically implemented in cities to reduce air pollution. Certain vehicles that don’t meet the minimum emissions standards will be subject to daily fees if they travel within a LEZ.
Vehicles that may be subject to LEZ charges include:
Cars and motorcycles are not subject to the daily LEZ fees (regardless of their emissions levels).
LEZs are designed to tackle pollution by discouraging drivers of larger high-polluting vehicles from travelling within them.
LEZs currently operate within the following cities:
*Oxford’s LEZ is distinct from the Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), where daily charges apply to all non-electric vehicles travelling within the designated area.
London’s LEZ was introduced on 4th February 2008. It covers the majority of Greater London (including stretches of the M1 and M4 motorways, but not the M25) - and is in operation 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (excluding Christmas Day).
When travelling in Greater London, you may see warning signs indicating that you are travelling towards the LEZ boundary – along with signs pointing towards alternate routes that avoid the chargeable zone.
Non-compliant vehicles are detected by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. If you drive a non-compliant vehicle within London’s LEZ zone, you will be subject to a daily charge of £100 or £300.
Compliant vehicles do not have to pay a charge.
How much you will pay within the London LEZ zone will depend on what vehicle you’re driving, its weight and emissions levels.
There are a few crucial differences between LEZs and London’s ULEZ:
You can drive any car within any LEZ zone in England without facing a charge.
However, you cannot drive a non-compliant car within the Glasgow LEZ. By doing so, you will incur a £60 fine (which will increase with each subsequent offence, up to a maximum of £480). These penalties will also be enforced within the Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee LEZs from 1st June 2024 onwards.