Low Emission Zones
The operators of some 75,000 HGVs, buses and coaches and 72,000 larger vans, motorcaravans and minibuses will have to take action to meet tougher Low Emission Zone standards.
Since 2008 the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) has been in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year across Greater London and has been really successful in cutting air pollution. The most individually polluting vehicles driving in London are encouraged to clean up but now more needs to be done.
The LEZ currently applies to lorries, buses and coaches and from January 2012 there will be higher emission standards set for these vehicles. Also in January 2012 the scheme will be extended to include larger vans, motorcaravans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles for the first time.
Vehicles that do not meet the required standards must pay a daily charge of £100 (larger vans, motorcaravans and minibuses) to drive in London or risk penalties of up to £500 per day.
Members have several options including:
- Fitting approved filters to existing vehicles
- Replacing vehicles with newer models
- Paying the daily charge
- Not entering the LEZ
All Club Sites and Camping in the Forest Sites are currently outside the LEZ, but a number of Event Sites, Certificated Sites and Listed Sites are within the zone. To check out whether the particular campsite you wish to stay is within the LEZ visit the TFL website or to find out more about the LEZ click here.
Paris, Lyon and Grenoble were the first three cities in France to adopt Low Emission Zones, or LEZs, in early 2017, with Lille and Strasbourg following in autumn 2017. Others are expected to follow in due course. Up to date information on Low Emission Zones is available here.
Where Low Emission Zones operate, some vehicles may be able to drive only with an Air Quality Certificate sticker. Information in English on how to get these is available here. You can select the simulation tab to check your vehicle's environmental class, or go straight to the applying for your certificate tab and follow the procedure from there. The application can only be made online. We recommend that you allow ample time for delivery of the sticker to the registered address before departing the UK. It costs €4.80 including postage within the EU, however be aware of unofficial websites which may try to charge you more. Once you have obtained your Air Quality Certificate, it will be valid for the lifetime of the vehicle as long as the sticker is legible.
Please note that you will be required to upload a copy of your registration document to apply, though the maximum file size permitted is up to 400kb. There are several free photo editing websites available which can help to reduce your file size if necessary. Your computer may already have the Microsoft Paint program, which can also be used to resize images, or you can convert the image to a PDF file type instead.
Information taken from various government websites for people with disabilities appears to infer that a vehicle can be exempt from emission restrictions if the owner is registered disabled and is travelling in the vehicle. However, we are seeking clarification on this point and will update this information as soon as possible. In the meantime, we recommend that all members travelling to these cities should apply for the Air Quality Sticker in the meantime to ensure your vehicle is covered.
To avoid any complications we recommend that you apply for the sticker as soon as possible, which will cover the lifetime of your vehicle, whenever you visit any part of France.
We do not recommend driving within the périphérique (i.e. in the LEZ). This equates to driving in inner London, but on the other side of the road and with signage in a foreign language.
To visit the capital, use the excellent public transport systems that extend well out into the region.
We also recommend that you avoid driving on the very busy and sometimes complicated périphérique Paris ring road itself, which is not for the inexperienced or faint-hearted. When travelling in the region, give Paris a much wider berth than the périphérique. There is an extensive choice of routes past and around the capital that keep well away from the centre.
An emergency scheme applies an LEZ under certain conditions when pollution becomes a problem. Most of the time there are no restrictions.
There is an excellent public bus service from the Lyon suburbs which is the best way to visit the city. The LEZ, when operating, does not apply to motorways. You can therefore still travel around Lyon using the orbital route or through the centre, on the motorway network.
An emergency scheme applies an LEZ under certain conditions when pollution becomes a problem. Most of the time there are no restrictions. The scheme is a bit complicated when in effect:
- Simple speed restrictions will be indicated locally in the early days of a pollution event.
- If the pollution event lasts longer than five days, only vehicles with a Crit'Air Air Quality Certificate sticker are allowed to drive. You may therefore wish to take the precaution of getting a sticker in advance.
For more information about driving in France, take a look at our France travel advice.
Over 40 German cities have Low Emission Zones. Vehicles not displaying a Pollution Badge (Umwelt Plakette) may be fined up to €80. Badges are valid for the life of the vehicle throughout Germany. For vehicles not registered in Germany, classification depends on the vehicle type, its registration date and whether it runs on petrol or diesel.
The badge costs from €29.90, and is available either online, or from many outlets including repair centres, car dealers, MOT (TÜV) stations and vehicle licensing offices (a V5 vehicle registration document is needed, as well as the vehicle itself).
For more information about driving in Germany, take a look at our Germany travel advice.
Temporary restrictions may apply to car use in Madrid when air pollution levels are high, but these restrictions apply only within the city centre boundaries (within the M30 inner ring road) between 0630 and 2100. This is equivalent to driving in central London, and we recommend instead that you use public transport if visiting the centre of the capital. Vehicles travelling through Madrid en route to other destinations do not need to enter this zone.
When in force, cars with number plates ending in an even number will be allowed on even dates and cars with odd numbers on odd dates. Exemptions may apply to cars with multiple occupants (3 people or more), motorbikes and mopeds, hybrid and zero-emission vehicles, those with a disabled badge and taxis. For more information, call the ‘Línea Madrid’ citizen information and support line (in English) on 010 (from Madrid) or +34 915 298 210 (from outside Madrid).
For more information about driving in Spain, take a look at our Spain travel advice.