Low Emission Zone

The Low Emission Zone started on 1 January 2015

All bus services with routes entering the Low Emission Zone have five years form the start of the low emission zone to comply with Euro 5 emission standard. Bus operators in the city, both large and small, are playing their part in making public transport a cleaner and even more sustainable travel choice. Over 100 vehicles used most in the city centre are being upgraded immediately and more will follow.

Brighton & Hove Buses has retrofitted 50 buses to better than Euro 5 standard and have bought a further 24 new Euro 6 buses (the cleanest Euro standard).

Cuckmere Buses, a charity made up of volunteers, has spent £90,000 on a Euro 5 sprinter.

Stagecoach has invested £2 million with 12 Euro 5 buses which are now being used on the 700 route.

Heritage Group (Sussex Bus Company) 12 Buses that use the low emission zone will be improved to better than Euro 5 standard 

Taxis are not covered by the Low Emission Zone conditions but drivers are observing ‘no engine idling’ policies whilst stationary at taxi ranks. A successful joint bid with Brighton & Hove City Council also means that a minimum of 25 vehicles will be installed with cleaner exhaust technology.

Where is the Low Emission Zone?

The new Low Emission Zone covers Castle Square, North Street and Western Road as far as Palmeira Square where the zone ends. Although the Low Emission Zone area is small, almost 98% of bus movements in the city pass through the zone, extending the benefits of cleaner buses and taxis throughout the city.

Progress so far ( March 2016 )

2015 monitoring results suggest an improvement in nitrogen dioxide across the Brighton, Portslade and Rottingdean parts of the Air Quality Management Area that includes the North Street and Western Road Low Emission Zone.  Concentrations continue to exceed the EU and UK limits for nitrogen dioxide at a number of pedestrian and residential areas adjacent to roads. Whilst the latest monitoring evidence suggests an improving trend for pollution across much of the city, nitrogen dioxide levels remain constant for London Road-Oxford Place, Grand Parade (south) and Hollingdean Road.

£1.25 million has been won from the Department of Transports Clean Bus Transport Fund for eighty-five Brighton bus retrofits to specifically target emission of oxides of nitrogen. So far this is our most important intervention measure in support of local air quality improvement.  £195K has also been won to design low emission technology for minibus taxis.

Stagecoach bus company update

All stagecoach buses are now fully compliant with the LEZ and all buses are Euro 5 or higher

Brighton & Hove Bus company progress update

29 January 2016

Statement from Brighton & Hove bus company

"We have made excellent progress during the year.  At the start of the LEZ in January 2015 our fleet included 100 Euro 3 buses and 56 Euro 4 buses, along with 110 Euro 5 buses, of which 13 are diesel-electric hybrids which run for part of the time in electric mode.

Towards the end of 2014 we were successful in bidding for funding to convert 50 Euro 3 buses to better than Euro 5 standard using SCRT exhaust treatment equipment, so by early 2015 the number of buses at Euro 3 standard was reduced to fifty.

We invested £5million in 24 new Euro 6 buses for route 12, and these entered service in April and May 2015.  22 older Euro 3 buses left the fleet so the number of Euro 3 buses remaining by the summer was down to only 28.

Another batch of 24 new Euro 6 buses is on order for delivery in May 2016.  These new buses will enable us to withdraw the last of the unconverted Euro 3 buses, so we will have no Euro 3 buses in the fleet after June 2016, six months ahead of the Euro 3 deadline.

Towards the end of 2015 we learnt that we had been successful in obtaining further funding for another 23 buses to be converted to better than Euro 5 standard.  This will enable us to start converting Euro 4 buses to better than Euro 5 standard, again using SCRT equipment.

Our current plans are for a further 26 new buses to be delivered in the spring of 2017.  A similar number of Euro 4 buses would then leave the fleet, leaving only about 10 unconverted Euro 4 buses.

We would convert or replace these by the end of 2018, thereby becoming fully Euro 5 standard or better a full year ahead of the December 2019 deadline."

Why is a Low Emission Zone needed?

We have been monitoring air quality in the city for two decades. The aim of the Low Emission Zone is to improve air quality by reducing levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in areas of the city where it has remained above European and English legal limits. Improving air quality in the city also has the benefit of making the city centre a more attractive place to shop and visit.

The main source of NO2 emissions is transport which includes private vehicles, taxis, buses and freight and shipping. Long-term exposure to air pollution has a lasting effect on health and life expectancy, though the effects vary depending on where people live and the type of pollutant mixture. Good progress has been made in reducing levels of some airborne pollutants such as lead, benzene, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide The Low Emission Zone provides the framework for bus operators, taxi companies, as well as traffic engineers and other professionals to work together to address this problem.  More information about the local impact of vehicle emissions on health can be found in the chapter on air quality in city’s annual Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

How was the decision taken to introduce a Low Emission Zone?

The council first passed a resolution in June 2013 asking officers to investigate whether a Low Emission Zone could help tackle the issue of poor air quality in parts of the city. The report that followed looked at the small number of Low Emission Zones already up and running  elsewhere in the country (London, Norwich and Oxford) and weighed up whether and how they could be applied to help improve air quality in Brighton and Hove.

Brighton & Hove’s Low Emission Zone has been introduced following constructive discussions with all of the city’s eight bus operators and the taxi companies on ways in which poor air quality can be tackled in a practical way.

The full report also looked at whether other forms of transport such as freight and private vehicles should be regulated within the Low Emission Zone. The report recommending a bus based Low Emission Zone was agreed in January 2014.

What is the new standard for buses entering the Low Emission Zone?

Nationally and throughout Europe regulations are in place to set standards for both air quality and vehicle emissions for new vehicles. The Euro 1 standard was first introduced over 20 years ago for buses and as technology has improved the emissions limit has been reduced to the levels shown in the table below. The new low emission zone requirement is for bus emissions to meet Euro 5 standard or higher as shown in the table below. Bus operators are investing over the next five years in new buses or retrofitting exhaust systems to meet these standards.

Bus emission Euro standards for newly registered buses:

Tier Date Carbon Monoxide Hydro Carbons Nitrogen Oxides Particulate Matter
Euro I 1992, <85kW 4.5 1.1 8.0 0.612
1992, >85kW 4.5 1.1 8.0 0.36
Euro II October 1996 4.0 1.1 7.0 0.25
October 1998 4.0 1.1 7.0 0.15
Euro III October 1999 1.0 0.25 2.0 0.02
October 2000 2.1 0.66 5.0



Euro IV October 2005 1.5 0.46 3.5 0.02
Euro V October 2008 1.5 0.46 2.0 0.02
Euro VI 31 December 2013 1.5 0.13 0.4 0.01

The Euro standards compare bus emissions in a garage setting only. This doesn't always reflect how a bus will perform on a typical bus route, for example North Street has a steep climb to the clock tower, which can affect the emissions a bus puts out. For this reason Brighton and Hove buses have been working with Ricardo Engineering, a company based in Shoreham to assess the effectiveness of the retrofits in real operating conditions. Buses have been fitted with tailpipe emissions testing equipment to monitor performance along a typical bus route. The number 7 bus route has been tested.

The results of this testing show the retrofits significantly exceeding the required LEZ standard. The information can also be used to help identify the most effective type of retrofit for a particular make of bus given the specific demands of our local routes.

What exemptions are there to the Low Emission Zone conditions?

We have consulted bus operators affected by the change as well as neighbouring authorities. The main exemption allows bus operators 5 years to carry out the significant investment needed to bring all fleets up to the new standard.

There is also a permanent exemption for infrequent services which have a small impact on emissions in the zone. The full list of conditions can be found in the Bus Operator Guidance to the Low Emission Zone.

All bus drivers (including those operating low frequency services) entering the Low Emission Zone have to switch off their engine if they expect to be stationary in a bus stop for more than a minute, for example if they need to wait for 5 minutes before their next scheduled departure time. There are some exceptions to this rule such as for passenger comfort in very hot or cold weather conditions.

How will the Low Emission Zone be enforced?

We asked the Traffic Commissioners Office for a Traffic Regulation Condition to be applied to the licenses of all bus operators with services in the Low Emission Zone area. This has been granted and the Traffic Commissioner has powers to issue fines if these conditions are not met.

Brighton and Hove City Council is responsible for monitoring vehicles entering the Low Emission Zone. The CCTV cameras used to enforce bus lanes are used to identify any unauthorised vehicles and take enforcement action if required.

What else is being done improve air quality?

The council declared a new Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) on 30 August 2013 to help tackle the problem. The new AQMA is a quarter the size of the previous one and includes all areas of the city where nitrogen dioxide is above agreed limits. More information about air quality and the measures being taken to improve it can be found in the council’s 2014 Air Quality Progress Report.

The main source of local nitrogen dioxide is road transport which includes; buses, truck freight, diesel vans and cars,taxis, construction traffic and works machinery. The council has put in place a number of policies over the past decade aimed at encouraging take up of low emission vehicles or other more sustainable transport options especially active transport such as walking and cycling. The 2015 Air Quality Plan (AQAP) and Associated Community Insight report can be found at:


  • Free electric charging points for electric vehicles
  • Promotion of the use of car clubs and sustainable travel choices such as the JourneyOn website