Air quality has become more political than ever before, which is why we are constantly seeing changes to regulation and schemes by the UK government to discourage motorists using polluting vehicles or travelling in towns and cities where the air quality is poor.
Not all motorists are aware of their impact and what LEZs are for, this article explores Low Emission Zones (LEZs), how they affect us, and why they have been identified as a way local authority can reduce harmful emissions.
Whilst also providing several tips on how we can all be greener drivers and play a part in reducing our vehicle footprint.
Many European countries and the UK operate LEZs, they are quite common with over 200 towns and cities having schemes already in place, and the number is growing. It might be a good idea when planning your next driving staycation or trip abroad, to check if the area has a LEZs in place.
As inner-city pollution levels worsen, it is likely more local authorities will introduce LEZs, possibly adding a wider range of vehicles to the list.
The UK government has pledged to ‘be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it’. Roadside nitrogen oxide (NO2) concentrations have been linked to cancer and other respiratory diseases, local authorities implement LEZs and other schemes to help reduce the level of NO2.
Drivers can prepare before travelling by entering their vehicle’s registration number into the Clean Air Zone vehicle checker, it informs you if there will be a daily charge to pay before entering.
What is a Low Emission Zone (LEZs)?
LEZs are traffic congestion schemes to help tackle pollution and air quality, they are designed to try and discourage certain vehicles from entering them and encourage us to drive cleaner vehicles helping improve air quality.
LEZs do not stop high emission vehicles from entering, but if a vehicle trying to enter does not comply with the minimum standard set out for emissions, then the motorist will be charged upon entering, failure to pay the charge may result in penalty fines.
Charges when entering LEZs are automatically enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, with entry points well marked by signage to warn motorists of diverted routes in case they do not wish to enter.
What is an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZs)?
ULEZs play a big part helping local authorities control emissions without banning certain vehicles entering poor air quality areas in a town or city.
For example, London’s ULEZs were originally designed to cover the same geographical area as the congestion charging zone, but it is now looking highly likely it will be extended to cover up to the north and south circular boundaries, possibly even within the entire M25 being recently reported.
The London Low Emission Zone
The London LEZ was introduced in back 2008 covering most of Greater London, it is the United Kingdom’s largest and includes some parts of the M1 and M4 motorways.
The London Low Emission Zone, unlike the London Congestion Charge, operates 24 hours a day and is a separate scheme, drivers of high polluting vehicles entering the Congestion Charge zone at certain times of the day will need to pay both charges, motorists should check where the boundaries of each zone fall before travelling into London.
You can enter your registration number in to the Transport for London (TfL) checker to see if your vehicle needs to pay to enter the Zone.
Become a Green Driver
Reducing emissions is not just good for the environment, it should also enhance the vehicle performance and fuel economy, making it cheaper to drive.
We can all become greener drivers just by improving our habits and maintaining our vehicle as often as possible, some tips that will help:
- Use better fuel, it contains active cleaning agents that remove dirt from the engine to improve efficiency and reduce harmful emissions.
- Change the oil at regular intervals to improve efficiency, engine oil lubricates, cleans, cools, and prevents wear and tear.
- Replace the air filter, once blocked, engine deposits build up causing premature vehicle wear and tear, especially if you live in a dusty environment.
- Low tyre pressure increases CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, check your tyre pressure is in line with the motor trade manufacturers recommendations.
- Using the air conditioning increases vehicle emissions and travelling with the windows down creates drag on a vehicle, both of which increase fuel consumption.
- Do not leave a vehicle running when parked or in traffic, if you are likely to be waiting longer than 10 seconds, switch the engine off, if your vehicle is fitted with a stop-start system, please make sure it is switched on.
- When left behind a vehicle emits no emissions whatsoever, try combining trips wherever possible, consider car sharing or public transport, maybe even walk or cycle. Less vehicle milage will save you money on fuel, possibly on your insurance policy renewal too.
The motor trade industry is making modern vehicles more efficient than ever before, with some manufacturers now moving completely towards producing electric vehicles. Taking some of the steps outlined above might lower the emissions of your existing vehicle, but a newer model from a motor trade dealer might be the best option if a significant reduction is required.