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Glasgow City Council

Glasgow's LEZ deemed lawful and proportionate following Judicial Review

Published: 31 October 2023

LEZ statutory signage at Clyde St (Dec 2022)

Glasgow's Low Emission Zone (LEZ) has been deemed lawful and proportionate, after the Court of Session dismissed a petition for Judicial Review of the scheme.

Brought by Paton's Accident Repair Centre, the petition sought to challenge the legality of Glasgow's LEZ as well as the national regulations which set out the financial penalties for LEZ breaches.

Following a two-day hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the court rejected criticisms levelled at the scheme - finding that Glasgow's LEZ is lawful, and that it was reasonable for the council to have concluded that the scheme would contribute toward meeting statutory air quality standards.

The court also found that Glasgow's LEZ scheme is proportionate and represents a fair balance of interests.

Councillor Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport and Climate welcomed today's judgment which ensures the continuance of Glasgow's LEZ scheme which has been in force since June.

Cllr Millar said: "Today's decision reflects that Glasgow's Low Emission Zone is an important public health measure, aimed at bringing down harmful levels of air pollution within the city centre after decades of unacceptable non-compliance with legal standards.

"A strong and substantial body of work underpinned our decision to roll out the LEZ, and we've always had the utmost confidence in the lawfulness and proportionality of the scheme given its clear, scientific evidence base.

"Air pollution creates and exacerbates people's health conditions and contributes to hundreds of deaths in Glasgow every year, worsening health inequalities and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. Both short- and long-term exposure can lead to a wide range of diseases, including asthma and respiratory infections, with evidence also now emerging of links to other conditions including type two diabetes and dementia.

"We know from pre-enforcement modelling that the vast majority of vehicles driving into the zone already meet the emission standards and are entirely unaffected by the scheme, however everyone benefits from cleaner air.

"Today's ruling by the Court means we can continue in our commitment to improving air quality to create a safer and more pleasant environment for everyone who lives or spends time in Glasgow city centre."

Glasgow's LEZ scheme is the first to be enforced in Scotland. It follows the initial, bus-only phase, which from 2018 required a year-on-year improvement in the proportion of low or zero emission buses servicing the city centre.

Unless exempt, all vehicles entering Glasgow's LEZ must meet the less-polluting emission standards or face a penalty charge.

Per the national regulations, a scheme surcharge means the initial penalty rate of £60 doubles for each subsequent breach detected, subject to a rate cap of £480 for cars and LGVs, and £960 for buses and HGVs.

In addition to improving air quality, it is also anticipated that Glasgow's LEZ will accelerate the uptake of more sustainable forms of transport and increase the amenity of the city centre.

The cities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh are expected to enforce their own LEZ schemes next year.

The opinion of the Court was issued today and has been published on the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service website:

John Paton & Sons Ltd Against Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Ministers

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