low-velocity zone

Low emission zone

A Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is a geographically defined area which seeks to restrict or deter access by certain polluting vehicles or only allow low (as regular or plug-in hybrid) or zero emission (as all-electric) vehicles, with the aim of improving the air quality.


Over 70 cities and towns in 8 countries around Europe operate or are preparing Low Emission Zones, or LEZs, to help meet the EU health-based air quality limit values, where the most polluting vehicles are regulated. This means that vehicles may be banned or in some cases charged if they enter the LEZ when their emissions are over a set level. Different vehicles are regulated, depending on the local conditions. All LEZs affect heavy duty vehicles, some affect diesel vans, others also affect diesel and petrol cars; in Italy, motor cycles and three-wheelers are also included.

LEZs are also know as Environment Zone, Umweltzone (Germany), Milieuzone (Netherlands), Lavutslippssone (Norway) , Miljozone (Denmark), Miljözon (Sweden). A Publicly Funded website,, run by a network of cities and ministries operating or preparing LEZs, gives up-to-date information on LEZs, such as which cities have LEZs, the vehicle types affected, the required emissions standards and their application dates.


Tokyo has been a Low Emission Zone since October 2003.


Berlin started an LEZ in the central city area on 1 January 2008, as did Cologne and Hanover. An LEZ came into effect in Stuttgart on 1 March 2008. More cities will follow this year.

An LEZ was also scheduled to start on 1 March 2008 in Mannheim.


The cities of Gothenburg, Lund, Malmö and Stockholm have Low Emission Zones.

United Kingdom

The Mayor of London announced establishment of a Low Emission Zone which came into effect on 4 February 2008 covering almost all of Greater London - the largest such zone in the world. London currently has levels of air pollution among the worst in Europe and road transport related emissions account for around half of total emissions of PM10 and NOx in the capital. The Low Emission Zone will target emissions of these pollutants from older diesel-engined lorries, buses, coaches, vans, minibuses and other heavy vehicles that are derived from lorries and vans such as motor caravans and motorised horse boxes. There will be a phased introduction of the scheme from 4 February 2008 through to January 2012. Different vehicles will be affected over time and increasingly tougher emissions standards will apply.


External links

  • Diesel Retrofit in Europe

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