Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006
Car exhaust emissions

UK Low Emission Zones – How EVs Can Save You Serious Money

With the constant strive to reduce the negative impact we have on our planet, Low Emission Zones (LEZ) and Clean Air Zones (CAZ) have rapidly become a key focus in the UK. These are areas that have been designated in some of the country’s major cities that apply restrictions to drivers of certain vehicles, mostly by implementing charges that drivers must pay based on the emissions that their vehicles emit. A considerable quantity of these zones already exist in the UK, and there are plans to introduce new ones in the coming months and years (as well as plans to modify and adapt the restrictions of some existing zones).

With this in mind, many drivers have been asking the same questions – how much is this going to cost them, particularly in the long term? And is there a way to either reduce these costs, or avoid them entirely? We’re about to answer both of these questions for drivers across the country, including you.

Firstly, where are the existing LEZs and CAZs in the UK?

The list of restricted zones in the UK is one that is constantly increasing in size. Both the North and South of England, as well as Scotland, have all introduced restricted zones in specific areas of major cities that affect drivers of a huge variety of vehicles, including personal and commercial vehicles. The list of current cities with LEZs/CAZs in the UK is:

  • Bath
  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Bristol
  • Glasgow
  • London
  • Oxford
  • Portsmouth

Alongside the list of existing LEZs and CAZs, there are many plans in place to introduce more of these zones in other cities, some of which are already in motion. As of February 2023, these are:

  • Sheffield
  • Newcastle and Gateshead
  • Edinburgh
  • Aberdeen
  • Dundee

It’s highly likely that these lists will continue to grow. These zones apply charges to drivers of certain vehicles, and with the zones becoming much more of a common occurrence in UK cities, it’s vital to know how to reduce or avoid these costs.

How LEZs/CAZs work by charging drivers

These emission-restricted zones charge drivers of vehicles of a certain size or that emit emissions over a set threshold. Many of the zones don’t currently apply to the majority of private/personal vehicles, but this won’t always be the case. There is a high chance of some zones applying charges to drivers who take a vehicle that doesn’t meet the low emission standards inside the boundaries of the zone, even if it’s just for a very short period of time, regardless of whether the vehicle is private or commercial. Certain cities do have zones that already apply to almost all vehicles, including private vehicles, such as Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone. The emission thresholds vary slightly across the different zones too, so a vehicle that may be acceptable and capable of avoiding charges in one zone may not have the same exceptions in the LEZ/CAZ of another city.

The actual charges in these zones also vary from city to city. Commercial vehicles such as HGVs, buses, coaches and more are the most expensive, with many of these vehicles being charged upwards of £100 per day. In the zones where private vehicles also receive charges, these can vary from £5 to £10 per day, with some places such as Dundee charging £60 per day for regular passenger cars (when full enforcement commences in 2024). At the lower end of the charging spectrum, it might not sound like much, but it adds up pretty quickly. Particularly for those who may have to pass through these zones on a regular basis for their work commute for example.

Saving serious money by driving an electric vehicle

Like we mentioned above, driving in an LEZ/CAZ on a regular basis is going to start putting a rather large dent in your bank balance quite quickly. Especially if you have to drive through zones where Ultra Low Emission restrictions are in place. But the good news is that you can avoid those charges, and it’s quite a straightforward solution.

Whilst driving any vehicle that meets the emission standards set out by a particular zone’s local government can help you either avoid certain charges or pay reduced amounts, it might not always be that way. As the global climate problem continues, fighting our environmental impact will likely involve much stricter rules and restrictions, so it’s safe to assume that the emission standards for LEZs/CAZs will change later down the line. If you want to make sure that your chances of avoiding long-term costs for driving in these zones, it’s time to opt for a much greener solution – an electric vehicle.

EVs form part of the ultra-low emission vehicle exemptions for these emission-restricted zones. Their zero-emission nature makes them the perfect choice for driving in the UK’s LEZs without having to worry about paying consistent costs to the local authorities. With charges being based on emissions, EVs are also pretty future-proof in this situation – even if standards are changed, electric vehicles will maintain their immunity from facing charges in these zones.

They also provide the benefit for certain restricted zones that completely prohibit entry for vehicles that don’t meet standards that have been set out by the local authorities for that space. Whilst these zones are rare currently, they may still become a more common occurrence in the future, particularly in the busy hearts of certain UK cities.

The financial appeal of going electric is undeniable

The financial benefits of electric vehicles have long been a talking point of the future of mobility. But it’s no longer just a future prospect. Making the move to electric provides a wealth of advantages to drivers across the globe, and with the UK’s priority on adding further emission restrictions to various cities with a seemingly ever-increasing charge for vehicles that don’t meet the right standards, the financial side of things has become an even bigger focus. EVs are no longer a highly inaccessible mode of transport either. Flexible options such as short term electric vehicle leases and subscriptions are rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways to get behind the wheel of an electric car, and it’s easy to see why.

If you want to discover the financial benefits of making the move to electric for yourself, there’s never been a better time to switch.