Low emission zones and the Transport (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Government is committed to introducing low emission zones into Scotland’s four biggest cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee) between 2018 and 2020, and the Transport (Scotland) Bill will help transform our cities into cleaner, healthier places to travel and enjoy.

The Bill enables the creation and civil enforcement of low emission zones by local authorities, and will allow the Scottish Government to set consistent national standards for a number of key aspects including, but not limited to, emissions, penalties, certain exemptions and parameters for grace periods for low emission zones.

A low emission zone is a scheme under which individuals driving vehicles which fail to meet specified emission standards will be prohibited from driving those vehicles in contravention of the terms of the scheme as proposed by a local authority within a designated geographical area. Typically, where a registered keeper of a vehicle breaches this rule, a penalty charge will be payable unless the vehicle is exempt (noting that drivers of car club and hire cars will also be considered too).

Key provisions include:

  • Providing local authorities with powers to create, enforce, operator or revoke a low emission zone in their area and to design the shape, size and vehicle scope of their low emission zone
  • The setting of specified emission standard by the Scottish Ministers by regulations
  • The setting of grace-periods to allow those wishing to drive within the low emission zone an opportunity to upgrade their vehicle to a less polluting model (either by replacing it or having it modified) before penalty charges begin to be applied
  • The ability for local authorities to promote permanent and/or time-limited exemptions from the requirements of a low emission zone, were certain requirements are meet to a strict criteria; these exemptions will be set by the Scottish Ministers by regulations
  • Enable Scottish Ministers to specify by regulations the amount of the penalty charge, with the ability to specify different levels of penalty charge depending on, for example, the class of vehicle, the emission standard of the non-compliant vehicle, or whether there are repeated contraventions
  • How contravention of the low emission zone standards would be handled. If contraventions occurred on the same day, in the same zone, using the same vehicle, and provided that the person who is liable to pay the penalty in respect of the vehicle is also the same in respect of the infractions, only one penalty per day would be payable
  • Detailed regulations and guidance will be produced for local authorities to deliver a consistent approach in how they enforce the new low emission zone requirements
  • Setting out the rules which will apply to penalty charge notices, such as the form they take, the time allowed for payment, internal review of a notice and/or appeal of the notice to an external adjudicator
  • Providing local authorities with powers to create, operate and revoke low emission zones with other councils
  • Requiring local authorities to utilise the money they receive from the enforcement of the new restrictions for ring-fenced purposes, particularly to facilitate the achievement of the low emission zone scheme objectives

Want to learn more?

The Scottish Government also ran its own consultation, Building Scotland’s Low Emission Zones, and you can read our analysis of the consultation responses.

For more information see the Policy Memorandum on the Scottish Parliament website.