Edinburgh LEZ: All you need to know as city's Low Emission Zone officially goes live

The city's LEZ officially launched today, June 1.
-Credit: (Image: Callum Moffat)

With Edinburgh being the latest Scottish city to enforce a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), many who commute or drive in and around the city centre may still be wondering how they will be affected.

On Saturday, June 1, the LEZ officially went live with a boundary having been made covering areas such as Princes Street, the West End, Newington and as far as Abbeyhill.

This means vehicles that do not meet specific emission standards, typically associated with older models, may be fined if they enter the prohibited zone - which is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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How it is being enforced?

Locals may have noticed large green LEZ signs being erected in recent months at the zone's boundaries across the city, informing motorists that they are about to enter a Low Emission Zone.

The council is using automatic number plate recognition cameras to enforce the ban to capture the details of any driver who attempts to flout the rules.

Following a spate of vandalism to similar cameras used to police bus lanes in Edinburgh, the council has reaffirmed its zero tolerance policy to anyone caught damaging public property including LEZ signs, columns, power supplies or cameras.

How to check if your vehicle is eligible

A Low Emission Zone checker is available online where motorists can enter their registration and check the eligibility of their vehicle.

Scotland’s Low Emission Zones will only allow access to vehicles which meet minimum emission standards or meet the exemption criteria.

The vehicle checker will allow you, by providing your vehicle registration number, to check if your vehicle can or cannot drive within a LEZ based on whether it is considered compliant or non-compliant with the emission standards.

The vehicle checker will not provide an exemption status for all national or local exemptions. You will need to check whether you or your vehicle meet exemption criteria before travel.

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LEZ boundary

As mentioned, the city centre is covered by the new LEZ. An interactive map of the full zone is also available on the Edinburgh Council website for those who may be concerned about unknowingly entering.

The LEZ boundary circles the city centre from:

  • Tollcross in the south

  • to Palmerston Place in the west

  • along Queen Street in the New Town

  • to Picardy Place

  • around Abbeyhill and onto Holyrood Road

  • along the Pleasance in the east

  • before heading back along the Meadows to Tollcross.

LEZ penalty charges

As of June 1, drivers who enter the LEZ with a vehicle that is not eligible, will receive an initial £60. However, similar to a parking fine, the charge will be reduced by 50 per cent if paid within 14 days.

If your vehicle does not meet the minimum emission standards, it is described as non-compliant. Motorists will be fined if they drive within the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

If you re-enter the same LEZ in the same vehicle within 90 days of the last contravention, the penalty charge will double. Fines will continue to double to a maximum of

  • £480 for cars and light goods vehicles

  • £960 for buses and HGVs.

For all non-compliant vehicles, data obtained from the ANPR cameras will be used to check the DVLA to determine if the vehicle is eligible. If not, a PCN will be sent to the registered keeper of the non-compliant vehicle. No more than one PCN can be issued her vehicle per day between midnight and 23.59pm.

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According to the council, some vehicles will be allowed into the LEZ, whether they meet the standards or not, as often it is not easy to adapt these vehicles to the meet the LEZ standards.

This is set out in the LEZ law (Low Emission Zones (Emission Standards, Exemptions and Penalty Charges) (Scotland) Regulations 2021) and applies across all of Scotland's LEZs, for consistency. These national exemptions are

  • vehicles for people with disabilities, including people who have Blue Badges

  • historic vehicles

  • showman’s vehicles

  • emergency vehicles

  • military vehicles.

The full list of exemptions can be found here