Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Vehicle emissions legal requirements - what you must do

Vehicle emissions legal requirements - what you must do


What you must do

You must ensure that any vehicle used by your business is roadworthy and complies with exhaust emission standards and weight regulations. The minimum exhaust emission standards are specified in the:

  • MOT test scheme for cars, light goods vehicles and motorcycles
  • heavy goods vehicle (HGV) scheme for lorries
  • public service vehicles (PSV) scheme for buses and coaches

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) in Scotland enforce these standards by carrying out roadside checks to vehicles, to improve the roadworthiness of vehicles and ensuring operators and drivers comply.

Driver and Vehicle Agency: Vehicle testing (Northern Ireland)

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Scotland)


Air quality management areas (AQMAs)

Your local authority monitors air quality in your area. If this falls below a certain legal level they must declare an AQMA and introduce their own schemes to help improve the poor air quality, for example low emission zones (LEZs). The local authority may decide to penalise drivers who enter an LEZ if a vehicle doesn't meet certain emissions standards or qualify for an exemption.

Check with your local council to find out if there are any restrictions on vehicle access in your area.

Find your local council

Defra: Local air quality management areas (UK)


Low Emission Zones (LEZs)

In Scotland, the Scottish Government has plans to introduce LEZs into Scotland's four biggest cities first, and followed by LEZs in other Air Quality Management Areas.


Avoid causing a nuisance

Dust, fumes or noise emissions from your vehicles can cause a nuisance to your neighbours. If your local council receives a complaint, they may request that you reduce or stop the nuisance, or ask you to carry out work to reduce or stop it.

See our guideline on noise, odour and other nuisances.

You must turn off your engine when your vehicle is stationary to reduce exhaust emissions and noise. You can be prosecuted or fined by some local councils if you leave your engine running unnecessarily while stationary for more than 30 seconds. If the vehicle has refrigeration units, you should switch the engine off as long as there is an electrical supply to run them.


In this guideline

Vehicle emissions requirements - what you must do

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