New Blue Badge rules for people travelling in a Low Emission Zone as a driver or passenger

The first Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Scotland came into force in Glasgow last June and is now set to launch in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee over the next few weeks. Dundee will introduce travel restrictions on May 30, followed by Aberdeen and Edinburgh on June 1, 2024.

The travel restrictions mean that any vehicle entering the designated zone around these city centres will need to meet certain emission standards, or face a penalty. During the first month of the LEZ enforcement launching in Glasgow’s city centre, some 2,922 Penalty Charge Notices were issued to drivers, which was largely attributed to a period of familiarisation with the change.

The fines are set at £60 but can be reduced by 50 per cent if they are paid within 14 days of being issued. However, many Blue Badge holders may be unaware that they are exempt from LEZ restrictions.

Guidance from Low Emission Zones Scotland explains that if a Blue Badge holder’s vehicle is already compliant, they do not need to do anything, and if it is not compliant, they can register for a ‘Blue Badge Exemption’.

LEZ Blue Badge exemption rules

There are several exemptions which cover vehicles being used for the purposes of disabled persons.

These are listed below - you can check if your vehicle is compliant on the Low Emission Zones Scotland website here.

A vehicle carrying a Blue Badge holder, including:

  • A vehicle being driven by any person who has a Blue Badge

  • A passenger in the vehicle who has a Blue Badge

  • A vehicle being driven with a Blue Badge which has been issued to an organisation

Other exemptions include:

  • A vehicle registered with a 'disabled' or 'disabled passenger vehicles' tax class

  • A vehicle receiving a reduction in annual rate of vehicle excise duty because the vehicle is being used by a disabled person in receipt of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) at the standard rate

What is a Low Emission Zone?

Low Emission Zones are a moving traffic contravention, preventing the most polluting vehicles driving within an area, which improves air quality and helps to protect public health.

LEZs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round - including all Public Holidays such as Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are linked to local and national vehicle licensing databases, to monitor all vehicles driving in a LEZ. They will detect vehicles which do not comply with the emission standards - stationary vehicles are not subject to LEZ restrictions.

Scottish LEZs will be enforced by Penalty Charge Notices. When a non-compliant vehicle is detected driving within a LEZ a Penalty Charge Notices is issued to the registered keeper of that vehicle.

How to register for Blue Badge holder exemption

If you are a Blue Badge holder, and the vehicle you are travelling in is non-compliant and does not have disabled vehicle/disabled passenger vehicle tax class, then you will need to register for an exemption in advance of travel to the LEZ.

Blue Badge holders can register vehicles for either Long Term or One Day exemptions which will apply to all LEZs in Scotland. Exemptions can be registered for up to seven days in advance of travel and before midnight on the same day of travel.

Long Term Exemption

You can register a vehicle for a Long Term Exemption, provided the vehicle is registered to your home address. The Long Term Exemption will remain active for as long as the Blue Badge is valid unless otherwise updated on your account.

One Day Exemptions

You can also register for One Day Exemptions for up to two vehicles you are travelling in that day. One day exemptions can be made up to seven days before travelling.

Organisational Blue Badges

Organisations with Blue Badges can also now register their Scottish LEZ Exemption Accounts online. Organisations may register all the Blue Badges they hold on a single account. The number of Blue Badges held by the organisation will entitle them to that number of One Day Exemptions to be active on a single day.

More help on registering for a Blue Badge exemption online, along with a video explainer can be found on the Low Emission Zones Scotland website here.

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