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What are low emission zones and will they affect you?

April 28, 2023

What are low emission zones and will they affect you?

To help clean up Britain’s air and improve public health, the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) has been introduced across the UK, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. 

A large part of Greater London is included in this new zone - and is separate from the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which is in place inside the North and South Circular Roads and operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year except Christmas Day.

Air pollution has a range of negative effects on both human health and the environment such as issues with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

In addition to its impact on human health, air pollution also has environmental consequences. It can damage crops, forests, and waterways, harm wildlife, and contribute to climate change by increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

LEZs are one measure to reduce air pollution and its negative effects - requiring vehicles to meet strict emissions standards before they can enter the designated zone. This helps to reduce emissions from vehicles and improve air quality in the area. 

LEZs can also encourage the use of cleaner transportation options, such as public transport, walking, or cycling.

In addition to London, there are several other low emission zones across the UK, including Birmingham and Bath. 

The Birmingham CAZ (Clean Air Zone), for example, was introduced in 2021 and covers a small area of the city centre. Vehicles can enter the CAZ for free if they meet the following criteria:

  • Diesel minimum standard Euro 6
  • Petrol minimum standard Euro 4
  • Zero emission (electric, hydrogen)
  • Low emission (CNG, hybrid meeting minimum standard diesel Euro 6 and petrol Euro 4)
  • CVRAS (Compliant Vehicle Registered Accreditation Scheme) retrofit solution, including LPG retrofits
  • Mopeds and motorcycles

The expansion of low emission zones in the UK demonstrates a growing recognition of the importance of reducing air pollution and its negative effects on human health and the environment. By requiring vehicles to meet strict emissions standards, LEZs help to encourage the use of cleaner transportation options and create a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future.

Impact of low emission zones on the environment and public health 

Introducing low emission zones into various areas of the UK have resulted in a positive impact on air quality and public health.

Some of the key ways in which LEZ have significantly improved public health include: 

  • Reduced air pollution: LEZ have reduced air pollen significantly - with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels reducing by an average of 44% in the first year of operation in London.

  • Encourages cleaner transportation: The promotion of eco-friendly transportation options such as electric and hybrid vehicles, public transportation, and active modes of travel by LEZ has encouraged people to opt for cleaner means of commuting.

  • Improved public health: The correlation between the decrease in air pollution and public health has been evident, as it has lowered the probability of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. A report from King's College London indicates that the LEZ initiative could potentially prevent nearly 300 premature deaths annually by improving air quality.

  • Economic benefits: Not only has the LEZ initiative enhanced air quality and public health, but they have also generated economic advantages - such as reduced healthcare expenses and increased productivity as a result of fewer absences due to illness.

How low emission zones work and who needs to pay

An LEZ charge works by requiring vehicles that do not meet certain emissions standards to pay a daily charge to enter the designated zone. The exact requirements and charges vary depending on the specific LEZ.

To enforce the LEZ charge, cameras or other monitoring devices are used to capture images of the licence plates of vehicles entering the zone. These images are then checked against a database of compliant vehicles to determine if the vehicle is subject to the charge.

If a vehicle is found to be subject to the charge, the registered owner of the vehicle will receive a fine in the post. The amount of the fine varies depending on the specific LEZ and the type of vehicle. In some cases, the fine may be reduced if it is paid promptly.

To avoid the LEZ charge, drivers can either purchase a vehicle that meets the emissions standards or choose an alternative mode of transportation, such as public transportor cycling. In some cases, exemptions or discounts may be available for certain types of vehicles, such as emergency vehicles or those used by people with disabilities.

The vehicles that are subject to the LEZ charge vary depending on the specific LEZ, but generally, the charge applies to older, more polluting vehicles that do not meet certain emissions standards. There are sometimes also LEZ charge discounts available for residents living within the zone - depending on the area. 

It is important to note that the specific emissions standards and exemption criteria can vary depending on the LEZ. 

Drivers should check the requirements and exemptions for their specific location to determine if their vehicle is subject to the charge and if any exemptions or discounts are available. For example, London-based drivers can check their vehicle registration number on the TfL website to see if their vehicle meets the emissions standards to avoid the charge. 

If a vehicle is not LEZ compliant, there are several options available:

  • Upgrade the vehicle: If the vehicle is only slightly non-compliant, it may be possible to upgrade the vehicle to meet the emissions standards required to avoid the charge. This may involve retrofitting the vehicle with emissions-reducing technology or purchasing a newer, more efficient vehicle.

  • Pay the charge: If upgrading the vehicle is not feasible or cost-effective, the driver may choose to simply pay the daily charge to enter the LEZ. The cost of the charge varies depending on the specific LEZ, but can range from a few pounds to several hundred pounds per day.

  • Use alternative transportation: If the vehicle is not compliant and the driver does not want to pay the charge, they may choose to use alternative modes of transportation, such as public transit, cycling, or even walking. Many LEZs are designed to encourage these modes of transportation and may offer incentives or infrastructure to make them more convenient and accessible.

How to avoid low emission zone charges

  • Overview of the different ways to avoid LEZ charges, including buying a compliant vehicle, using public transport or active travel, and paying the daily charge
  • Discussion of the pros and cons of each option, including cost, convenience, and environmental impact
  • Explanation of the potential savings for drivers who switch to an LEZ compliant vehicle

To avoid the LEZ charges, your first option is choosing a compliant vehicle. An electric or hybrid vehicle will meet emissions standards - and another advantage is you’ll pay less for fuel and reduce your environmental impact. 

The downside to this option is the upfront cost of purchasing an electric or hybrid car. Bear in mind also that you require the right charging infrastructure to charge the vehicle. If you’re looking for a larger commercial vehicle, you may be limited in the choice of compliant vehicles.

Your second option is to consider using public transport and/or active travel solutions. Cities in general boast a comprehensive network of buses, trains, and sometimes an underground solution - which makes it simple to go on trips without a car.rt trips and are good for your health. 

Public transport options are convenient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and eliminates LEZ charges completely. It’s up to you to decide if the limited flexibility and potential delays you might experience for some modes of transport, together with higher costs for long-distance journeys, are worth it. 

Option number three to avoid LEZ charges is planning your routes in advance. Ideal for trips outside LEZ zones, you don’t require a compliant vehicle or need to pay the daily charge. 

The downside of planning your routes is that it’s not always realistic for some types of trips or schedules - and if your route alters beyond your control you may need to enter a LEZ zone and pay the charge. 

Choosing to pay the LEZ charge means you don’t have to buy a compliant vehicle, and you can be as flexible as you like using your own vehicle for trips or work.

Paying LEZ charges is an easy process you can complete online, by phone, or by setting up an automatic payment. Of course, if you need to pay LEZ charges daily, you’ll find it can get costly. Paying LEZ charges may allow drivers to continue using their own vehicle, but it does not reduce the environmental impact of vehicle use. 

If you want to purchase a compliant vehicle, you can access potential savings, including:

It’s important to weigh the potential savings against the initial investment and ongoing costs when deciding whether to switch to a compliant vehicle.

Drive Fuze provides a car subscription service offering a range of LEZ-compliant vehicles for a sustainable and convenient mode of transport. The fleet includes electric and hybrid vehicles that meet the stringent emissions standards mandated by LEZ - making this option an ideal choice for environmentally-conscious drivers seeking to both reduce their carbon footprint and avoid LEZ charges.

Subscribing to Drive Fuze's service allows you to enjoy the benefits of having access to a car without the responsibilities of ownership. Taking care of all the vehicle maintenance, insurance, tyres, and even breakdown cover - you can switch to a different car or cancel your subscription at any time. Feel the freedom to change with the ultimate flexibility from Drive Fuze - great for those who want to try out different LEZ-compliant vehicles or only need a car for a short period.

By choosing Drive Fuze's car subscription service, you can enjoy the freedom of driving a new LEZ-compliant vehicle without having to worry about any LEZ charges.