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Aberdeen LEZ starts 1 month from now: What you need to know plus key myths busted

In just one month Aberdeen's LEZ will start to be enforced. Find out what that means for you and check our interactive map to see where you can park out with the zone.

Aberdeen's LEZ comes into force in exactly one month. Image: Lauren Taylor
Aberdeen's LEZ comes into force in exactly one month. Image: Lauren Taylor

In exactly one month, Aberdeen’s highly controversial low emission zone (LEZ) will finally be enforced.

Signs have already been put up at locations across the city centre, marking out the zone, and specialist cameras are now being installed.

It may have been technically introduced in May 2022, but luckily for many, the LEZ was not actually enforced with fines straight away.

Even smaller streets like Thistle Lane have been covered by the LEZ. Image: Lauren Taylor

Aberdeen City Council allowed a two-year “grace period” meaning no fines have been dished out in the Granite City just yet.

However, this will all change in exactly one month.

An updated map of the LEZ boundary. Image: Let’s Clear the Air

From June 1, anyone who drives a vehicle that does not meet strict emissions criteria in the LEZ will be slapped with a fine.

And, particularly since the first signs started being spotted, we have seen hundreds of angry comments and questions popping up online from city drivers.

We have tried to answer the questions people are most concerned about and bust some myths about the Aberdeen LEZ at the same time.

Why is Aberdeen getting a LEZ?

The Scottish Government rolled out LEZs across Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen to tackle air pollution.

The LEZ system went live in Glasgow last year but is only starting in Aberdeen on June 1.

The LEZ covers Bridge Street. Image: Lauren Taylor

Official Scottish Government data shows Aberdeen streets have a “low” air pollution level.

It is predicted air pollution (specifically, the NOx concentration) will be reduced by 57% because of the zone.

The Aberdeen zone is relatively small and only 14% of cars in Aberdeen are estimated to be non-compliant.

A campaign called Let’s Clear the Air was recently launched to promote the LEZ zone.

You can watch their new video to find out more:

What are the LEZ fines?

As previously mentioned, automatic number plate recognition cameras are currently being installed across the LEZ.

From June 1, the cameras will be switched on, scanning the registration plates of every vehicle entering the zone, and checking each one to see if they’re banned.

Thistle Street from The Bread Guys is covered by the LEZ. Image: Lauren Taylor

Anyone caught driving a banned vehicle within the zone will be slapped with a £60 fine — reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

But, the fixed penalty penalty notice will double with each subsequent breach of LEZ rules. However, the fines are capped at £480 for cars and light goods vehicles, and £960 for buses and HGVs.

How much has the Aberdeen LEZ cost to set up and what will the fines be used for?

The Scottish Government body Transport Scotland has paid for the implementation of the Aberdeen LEZ and so far it has cost £632,910. But work is still being carried out on the clean air zone, meaning it might cost even more.

Because of the tight legislation around the LEZ, money gained through fines must be used to cover the ongoing and operational costs of the scheme.

The LEZ signs have been painted on the roads too. Image: Lauren Taylor

To put it simply, the money gained from fines will be ringfenced for camera maintenance, staffing, replacements, and repairs.

According to an Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman, once the running costs are covered, any remaining money will be used on more projects aimed at improving air quality.

She added: “No such projects have yet been identified as it is not clear at this stage what, if any, ‘surplus’ income there will be.”

There are some warning signs ahead of the zone, but they are not everywhere. Image: Lauren Taylor

What if my car doesn’t meet the requirements — will I not be able to drive into Aberdeen city?

That’s not entirely true…

Lots of the city centre is covered by the zone, but a surprising amount of it is actually outwith it.

While all of Union Street is in the zone, as well as some of the surrounding streets, there are still some city centre points people can drive to.

The Thistle Street LEZ. Image: Lauren Taylor

For example, Rosemount Viaduct, Rose Street and some of the main roads surrounding Union Square are not covered by the LEZ.

And, 10 out of 14 of the city car parks are not in the boundary meaning people can still park at the likes of Union Square, the Trinity Centre and the Bon Accord.

Who exactly is exempt?

A report last September highlighted that, at the time, around 32% of taxis (189 vehicles) and 8% of private hire cars (19) did not meet LEZ requirements.

Because of this, and the shortage of taxis across the city we are already experiencing, taxi drivers have been given another year’s grace period to ensure all vehicles meet the strict requirements.

The Denburn, which is now a main route used by drivers avoiding the bus gates, is covered by the LEZ. Image: Lauren Taylor

However, taxi drivers are expected to make sure their vehicles are fully compliant by June 1, 2025.

Additionally, blue badge holders can also register vehicles for either long-term or one-day exemptions.

The Low Emission Zone Support Fund is available to help households meet the LEZ minimum emission standards.

This means households that receive certain benefits can claim up to £3,000 in funding.

There is also funding to help businesses cover up to 70% of the cost of a retrofit.

Information on funding help can be found here.

And what about council vehicles?

Aberdeen City Council vehicles are not exempt from the strict LEZ rules.

As of April 24, only 33 of the council’s fleet do not meet the requirements, however, 511 do.

A council bin lorry driving along Alford Place to Union Street. Image: Lauren Taylor / DC Thomson

The local authority has stressed that not all of the vehicles are required to operate within the LEZ.

This means services, such as waste pick-ups, should not be impacted.

Read more about the Aberdeen LEZ: