LEZ, ULEZ, CAZ – no they’re not the most recent foreign imports to the Premier League, but zones in major cities designed to clean up air pollution by limiting traffic in busy areas.
Air pollution remains a serious problem in our busiest cities, with Central London seeing moderate to high levels of pollution in March 2021.
So how exactly do low emission zones work? Do they work? And how might it affect your driving if you are visiting one? Let’s have a look…
The Government defines a low emission zone thus: “A Clean Air Zone defines an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality and resources are prioritised and coordinated in order to shape the urban environment in a way that delivers improved health benefits and supports economic growth.”
Several UK cities currently have Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in operation, with many others either considering following suit, or having made plans to do just that.
As it stands, London’s CAZ is the only one in the UK that could hit you in the pocket for driving your car into it. Ones in Brighton, Glasgow and Southampton are more focused on bus and taxi fleets.
Transport for London also operates an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Central London, with more stringent penalties for entry in an attempt to curb large volumes of traffic. The ULEZ covers the same area of the capital as the congestion charge. Drivers must pay a penalty to drive in each zone, unless their car meets emission standards.
Those emission standards are set across the board, so if you want to check whether your car meets them in any low emission zone, you can use this tool.
As it stands, anyone can drive any car into a low emission zone – but you may have to pay to do so if in London. The schemes typically target buses and taxis. Glasgow’s CAZ, however, is expected to introduce measures for cars from 2022.
Drivers of diesel-powered vehicles are often hit the hardest in the pocket. This is because diesel engines manufactured before 2015 generally fall short of emission standards that are used in LEZs.
As it’s currently the only charging CAZ in the UK, let’s look at London’s ULEZ.
Driving into the zone in a car that does not meet emission standards Euro 4 for petrol cars and Euro 6 for diesel will cost you for each day you enter. You will also have to pay the congestion charge of £12.50.
Larger vehicles like buses, coaches and lorries are charged £100 per trip.
Newcomers and tourists may be confused as to how to pay in the low emission zone. There won’t be any toll booth to stop and pay at – your car will be picked up by ANPR cameras and the bill will be sent to you. This low emission zone map shows you the areas impacted in Greater London.
Of course, that is only if the vehicle does not meet certain standards. Generally speaking, petrol cars manufactured after 2006 will not face the low emission zone charge – although the timescale is shorter for diesel vehicles, as previously pointed out. You can check if you’ll have to pay in London before you travel using this checker.
One way to avoid the charges is to drive in an electric vehicle! The charges have been brought in to try and promote the use of eco-friendlier vehicles in city centres.
Not only will an electric-powered car guarantee you won’t have to pay as more and more low emission zones are introduced in the UK, there are other benefits to owning one.
Jardine stocks all-electric and hybrid models from a huge range of manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Jaguar and more, while our selection of used electric cars opens up electric power to even more budgets.
Visit our YouTube channel, where you can find more car reviews and walkarounds by our fantastic experts.