UK Transport Wiki
Low emission zone
LocationGreater London
TechnologyFixed and mobile CCTV
 Number plate recognition
OperatorIBM (from 2009)
ManagerTransport for London

Template:Politics of London

The London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is a charging scheme with the aim of reducing the pollution emissions of diesel-powered commercial vehicles in London, England. Vehicles are defined by their emissions and those that exceed pre-determined levels are charged to enter Greater London. The low emission zone started operating on 4 February 2008. There is a planned phased introduction of an increasingly stricter regime up to 2012, when it will be fully operational. The scheme is administered by the Transport for London executive agency within the Greater London Authority.


File:London low emission zone sign (detail).png

Signage at entrance to low emission zone

Airborne pollution in London is the worst in the United Kingdom, and amongst the worst in Europe, and roadside pollution has been rising for two years.[1][2][3] A Green Party report stated that in 2007, nine sites in London exceed the EU limits for air pollution, in 2000 it was only one.[4] Since 1993 the London Air Quality Network of King's College London has co-ordinated the monitoring of air pollution across 30 London boroughs and Heathrow, and has noted that in 2005-6 almost all road and kerbside monitoring sites across greater London exceeded the annual average limits for nitrogen dioxide of 40 μgm-3 (21 ppb), with eleven sites exceeding the hourly limits of 200 μgm-3 (105 ppb) on at least 18 occasions each. (The A23 at Brixton suffered the most consistently high levels for more than two-fifths of the period.) This compares to 2002 when only one site exceeded these limits. They also note that carbon monoxide levels reduced rapidly during the late 1990s and have been relatively stable since 2002.[5]

72% of the population is concerned about air quality. Transport for London (TfL) has stated that there are an estimated 1,000 premature deaths and a further 1,000 hospital admissions annually, due to poor air quality from all causes.[6]

Towards the end of 2006, the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone proposed changing the congestion charge fee, from being a flat rate for all qualifying vehicles, to being based on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) bands.[7] VED bands for new vehicles are based on the results of a laboratory test, designed to calculate the theoretical potential emissions of the vehicle in grammes of CO2 per kilometre travelled, under ideal conditions. The resulting figures, described as "deeply flawed" by the editor-in-chief of What Car? magazine, are then used to define the band in which a particular vehicle falls. The lowest band, Band A, is for vehicles with a calculated CO2 value of up to 100 g/km, the highest band, Band G, is for vehicles with a CO2 value of greater than 225 g/km.[8] Under the proposed modifications to the scheme, vehicles falling into Band A would have a reduced, or even zero charge, whilst those in Band G would be charged at £25 per day. Certain categories of vehicle, including electric vehicles, are already exempt from the charge.[9][10] These proposals were put out to public consultation in August 2007.[11]

In early 2006, consultations began on another charging scheme for motor vehicles entering London. Under this new scheme, a daily charge would be applied to the vehicles responsible for most of London's road traffic emissions, commercial vehicles – such as lorries, buses and coaches, with diesel engines. Cars were explicitly excluded. The objective of the new scheme is to help London meet its European Union (EU) air pollution obligations - specifically the EU Air Quality Framework Directive - as part of the Mayor's programme to make London the greenest city in the world. Despite some opposition, on May 9, 2007 the Mayor confirmed that he would proceed with a London Low Emission Zone, focused entirely on vehicle emissions, that plans to reduce emissions overall by 16% by 2012.[1]


File:Greater london outline map bw.png

Outline of Greater London. The LEZ covers most of this area

The LEZ came into operation on 4 February 2008 covering most of Greater London, though in some places the zone deviates to allow diversionary routes and facilities to turn around without entering the zone. The M25 motorway is not included in the scheme where it enters Greater London for short stretches in the west, north and east.[12] Signage indicates the boundaries of the zone which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,[13] the largest such zone in the world.[1] There will be a phased introduction of further provisions through to January 2012. Different vehicles will be affected over time and increasingly tougher emissions standards will apply.[14]

Vehicle Feb 2008 Jul 2008 Jan 2012
Lorries (over 12 tonnes) Euro 3 Euro 4
Lorries (3.5-12 tonnes), buses and coaches n/a Euro 3 Euro 4
Minibuses and vans (1.205-tonnes) Euro 3
Motor caravans and ambulances (2.5-3.5 tonnes)[14] Euro 3

The scheme applies to diesel engine vehicles over 1.205 tonnes[15] which must be registered with TfL. The scheme does not affect cars or motorcycles.[16] Owners of vehicles that do not meet these requirements must pay a fee of £200[1] with failure to pay resulting in a fine of up to £1,500.[17] A limited range of vehicles are exempted or able to obtain a discount from the charge.[18] Payment of the LEZ charge is in addition to any congestion charge required.[19]

Vehicles registered after October 2001 will generally be compliant with the first stages of the zone as from this date Euro 3 engine compliance was a mandatory requirement. Specific engines registered before October 2001 may also be compliant. Vehicles not specifically listed can be registered with TfL subject their owners obtaining a Low Emission Certificate (LEC) from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) subject to passing a supplementary smoke test or for non UK vehicles a specified operator certificate.[20] Most vehicles do not need to be registered as TfL has compiled a list of compliant vehicles from information held by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), VOSA and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.[21]

Like the congestion charge, the zone is monitored using Automatic Number Plate Reading Cameras (ANPR) to record number plates.[22] Vehicles entering or moving around the zone are checked against the records of the DVLA[1] to enable TfL to pursue owners of vehicles for which the charge has not been paid. For vehicles registered outside of Great Britain, an international debt recovery agency is used to obtain unpaid charges and fines.[22] The scheme is operated on a day-to-day basis by IBM.[23]


The scheme was opposed during the consultation phase by a range of stake holders. The Freight Transport Association proposed an alternative scheme, reliant on a replacement cycle of vehicles, with lorries over 8 years old being liable, with higher years for other vehicles. They also stated that the standards were different than the forthcoming Euro 5 requirements as well suggesting the scheme did not do anything to help reduce CO2 emissions.[24] The Road Haulage Association opposed the scheme, stating the costs to hauliers and benefits to the environment did not justify its introduction.[1]

Schools and St. John Ambulance have expressed concern about the additional costs that the scheme will bring them, particularly in light of the restricted budgets they operate under.[6]

The proposals were welcomed by the British Lung Foundation and the British Heart Foundation. London First, a business organisation, criticised aspects of the scheme with relation to the categorisation of vehicles, but supported the principle.[1]

Changes to Phase 3 - proposed suspension of 2010 implementation[]

On 2 February 2009 the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced [25] his intention to cancel the third phase of the LEZ covering Vans from 2010, subject to the outcome of a public consultation later in the year. The Freight Transport Association welcomed this move in its press release [26]of 3 February.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Template:Cite news
  2. Template:Cite news
  3. Template:Cite news
  4. Template:Cite news
  5. Fuller & Green (2006-07-28). Air Quality In London 2005 and mid 2006 – Briefing (PDF). London Air Quality Network. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Template:Cite news
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. Template:Cite news
  9. Q&A: The congestion charge. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media (2006-08-07). Retrieved on 2007-05-26.
  10. Template:Cite news
  11. Template:Cite news
  12. Template:Cite news
  13. The Low Emission Zone. Cleaner air for Greater London. (PDF) Pages 10–12. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Emissions standards. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  15. Vehicles Affected. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  16. Which vehicles will be affected?. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  17. Penalty Charges. Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  18. Discounts and exemptions. Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  19. Area of operation. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  20. Engine certification. Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  21. The Low Emission Zone. Cleaner air for Greater London. (PDF) Pages 6–7. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Enforcement. Transport for London. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  23. Template:Cite news
  24. LEZ consultation. Freight Transport Association.
  25. Reprieve for small businesses as Mayor suspends phase three of Low Emission Zone.
  26. Low Emission Zone U-turn: victory for logistics and small business.

External links[]


ca:London low emission zone it:London low emission zone