How to navigate a route – literally and metaphorically – through or around Low Emission Zones.

Low (and Ultra Low) Emission Zones are here to stay. An idea that got off the start line in London now plots routes nationwide; and while cleaner air for those who live in the heart of cities is positive, fines and penalties for motorists traversing them in anything other than green vehicles leaves many of us misfiring.

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone scheme was introduced in April 2019 – the logic was to make the innermost part of the capital greener after consistent rises in air pollution. Over time, the zone has been extended, with the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operating everywhere inside the North and South Circular roads, and a further Low Emission Zone (LEZ) taking in the whole of Greater London. While the ULEZ targets the most polluting vehicles, the LEZ focuses only on diesel cars. The result has been a dramatic reduction in emissions in the capital, with 94% of vehicles operating in the ULEZ meeting the strict criteria, up from 37% when the zone was configured in 2017.

There are a number of cities around the UK who have implemented plans or are in the process of launching their own initiatives for Low Emission Zones, and with all controlled by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, there is no method for motorists to avoid the charge, so check ahead and plan.

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