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Revealed: How £600,000 will be spent on Aberdeen’s LEZ

Aberdeen's Low Emission Zone will go live next year — find out what the council is spending more than £600,000 on to launch it

The proposals have been linked to low emission zones. Image: Kami Thomson/Michael McCosh/DC Thomson.
The proposals have been linked to low emission zones. Image: Kami Thomson/Michael McCosh/DC Thomson.

The Low Emission Zone in Aberdeen will be officially enforced from June 1, 2024, and drivers of high-pollution vehicles entering it will be slapped with a £60 fine.

But this is far from the only cost facing the public with the introduction of the LEZ to the city.

Before enforcement goes live next summer, the council will need to install lots of signage showing where the zone’s boundaries are, and expensive specialist cameras to catch out rulebreakers in the act.

Here’s a breakdown of how more than £600,000 will be spent on setting up the clean air zone.

Cameras and signs will need to cover 36 entry points into the Aberdeen LEZ

An official map of the Aberdeen LEZ. Image: Aberdeen City Council

The LEZ covers large parts of Aberdeen city centre, extending from Holburn Street in the west, to Virginia Street in the east.

It also contains areas towards the south of the city centre like Willowbank Road, and the north, like Huntly Street.

In total, the council says there are 36 different entry points into the zone, where drivers will be hit with a £60 fine if they go through in a vehicle banned for emitting too much pollution.

Each of these 36 points will need signs, as well as automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera technology in place.

An example of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera. These will soon be installed all over Aberdeen city centre for the LEZ. Image: Shutterstock

All enforcement will be executed via these cameras — meaning there won’t be any humans involved on the streets looking out for rule-breakers.

Although the city council did not confirm exactly how many cameras will be required, there will need to be at least one for every one of the 36 entry points.

A sign warning of ANPR cameras. Image: Shutterstock.

The local authority says it will cost £547,900 to procure, install and set up the cameras.

If there are at least 36, this would break down as more than £15,000 per unit.

How much will the LEZ signs cost?

An artist’s impression of what signage for one view into the Aberdeen Low Emission Zone could look like on Willowbank Road. No signs are actually in place as of May 2023. Image: Kami Thomson/Michael McCosh/DC Thomson

It’s a similar situation with the signs, as the council could not provide an exact number for how many there will be.

There will need to be at least one sign at every single one of the 36 points, but the council says it’s still developing plans for additional “last warning” signs.

The local authority says these “last warning” signs will be positioned on the approach to the zone, “to give drivers of non-compliant vehicles plenty of warning to divert away from the LEZ to avoid receiving a fine”.

The total cost of putting up signs for the LEZ is £52,500 — but the local authority stressed that “plans are still developing”.

A view down Union Terrace from Rosemount Viaduct with artist’s impressions of an LEZ sign. Image: Kami Thomson/Michael McCosh/DC Thomson

Again, if there are at least 36 signs, this would break down to just under £1,500 per sign installation.

In total, the combined costs of getting the signs and ANPR cameras in place for the Aberdeen LEZ is £600,400… for now.

Who is paying for all of this?

Cars produce harmful pollution. Scotland’s LEZs are designed to reduce the potential for this harm to protect people’s health. Image: Shutterstock

Funding to cover the costs of implementing the signs and cameras required for the Aberdeen LEZ is coming from Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government’s transport quango.

So, although it won’t be directly from the council’s taxpayer-funded pockets, the money will be still be coming from the taxpayer — just via the Scottish Government.

As well as paying for the signs and cameras, there are plenty of other costs associated with setting up and running the Aberdeen LEZ.

One of these will be a national advertising campaign to inform the public of the new zones coming into force.

Advertising campaign will tell the public about the big changes coming with the Aberdeen LEZ

As well as Aberdeen, LEZs are also being implemented in the cities of Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Aberdeen city council said there will be a “national advertising campaign for all four of the LEZs and this will be reinforced by an advertising campaign, including social media”.

Despite there being just over a year until fines start being dished out in Aberdeen, there is still absolutely nothing on the streets indicating where the zone is or what it will mean for the public yet in the Granite City.

A sign erected in Glasgow for the city’s LEZ, in March 2023, warning of the enforcement starting in June. Image: Shutterstock

This is not the case in Glasgow, where enforcement will start in just a few weeks on June 1 — a year ahead of the other three cities.

Signage has been erected, and television adverts have been aired.

Transport Scotland found in a 2019 survey that 48% of Scots knew about the coming LEZs, and it now claims this figure is as high as 72%.

It aims to increase this percentage even further as the nation gets closer to all four LEZs being live through further campaigning.

Is there financial support available if my car is banned?

Cars parked on Crown Street, one of the larger streets inside Aberdeen’s Low Emission Zone. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

But the implementation of Scotland’s LEZs isn’t just taking cash from the public.

There’s also taxpayer’s cash being handed out.

This included grants for households of £2,000 towards “disposal of non-compliant vehicles”, and funding worth £1,000 to spend on alternatives like bus passes, train tickets and bicycles.

£3.85 million worth of government funding was made available in the 2021/22 financial year through the Low Emission Zone Support Fund in grants for businesses, organisations and individuals to help them adjust to dealing with LEZs in their cities.

The LEZ Support Fund has now closed to new applications, but those wishing to apply for future funding can call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.

We tested 300 cars in Aberdeen to see if they’ll be allowed in the LEZ — find out the results of our experiment here.