Scottish Government seeks views on low emission zone penalties

The Scottish Government has outlined proposals to penalise drivers using highly polluting vehicles in areas with poor air quality — as part of a Low Emission Zone Consultation, launched yesterday.

Penalty charges could be in effect in any of four Low Emission Zones to be established in Scotland within the next three years — one by the end of 2018, with a further three to follow by 2020. LEZs are expected to be set up in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Glasgow could be one of the first cities to adopt a low emission zone in Scotland

The consultation launched yesterday (6 September) and titled ‘Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones’, also confirms plans laid out in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2017-18, for more LEZs to be established across all other Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) within the country by 2023.

In the document, the Scottish Government asks for views on implementing a scheme whereby the highest polluting vehicles would be banned from entering polluted areas, and would be subject to paying a penalty fee where non-compliant.

The system could use automatic plate recognition cameras to detect vehicles which do not comply with the relevant emissions standards.

Seeking views on the proposals, the consultation states: “…our focus is on creating a national penalty scheme for LEZs, which could be set at a standard rate for all vehicles, or a variable rate depending on vehicle class. Penalties could be set within bands with upper and lower limits, and could vary across different classes of vehicles…”


A review of funding has been promised within the 2018/19 spending review to assess how resources can best be applied to target tackle air pollution, with an Air Quality Fund, among the measures outlined in the Programme for Government.

Plans for an Engine Retrofitting Centre to support the delivery of LEZs are also being considered.

Commenting on the proposals, Friends of the Earth Scotland Air Pollution Campaigner, Emilia Hanna, said: ”We welcome the launch of a new Low Emission Strategy by the Scottish Government. Air pollution from traffic is a major threat to people’s health in Scotland, responsible for over 2,500 premature deaths each year, and is linked with respiratory and cardiovascular illness, impeded foetal development, and even dementia.

“Low Emission Zones will require that in the most heavily polluted parts of the city, vehicles will need to meet strict emissions standards or face a fine. These life-saving interventions will not only improve public health, but will make urban centres more pleasant places for people to spend their time. Low Emission Zones exist in over 200 European cities and towns and have proved successful in tackling air pollution.”

The consultation closes on 28 November.


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