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27 August 2023, 10:22

Scottish Government face court action over motorist fines over Scots LEZs

The Scottish Government is facing a court challenge to stop motorists being fined for entering Scotland's major centres through Low Emission Zones following concerns the penalties unfair.

The court challenge has been brought by William Paton, director of a city repair centre. An independent air quality review has found that Glasgow’s current emission levels are already compliant with all objectives set out by Air Quality Scotland.

William Paton, who runs an accident repair garage within the zone, says the scheme is hitting local businesses and is leading a legal case against the LEZ as unlawful.

After presenting an argument that air quality standards had been met in phase one of the scheme, Judge Lady Poole decided that his petition will be allowed to proceed to a full hearing. A procedural hearing for the case has been scheduled for 8 September and a judicial review is set to take place on 17 October.

Lady Poole, one of the newest Court of Session and High Court judges gave permission for the judicial review of the Glasgow scheme pushed forward by the city council to go ahead - even though it was lodged outside of a time limit. The court didn't comment on the specific grounds of the petition and made no finding on air quality levels.

In the UK, the law on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution – one of the most harmful pollutants – says annual average concentrations cannot exceed 40 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air).

According to the Scottish Government's air quality database the annual mean at the eight monitoring sites around Glasgow never exceeded 40 µg/m3 in 2022. 

The highest mean concentrations were Glasgow Central Station with 39.1, while Byres Road was 25.3, Dumbarton Road was at 24.4, and Nithsdale Road was 22.1. The lowest concentrations were at Anderston where it was 21.6, High Street (20.9), Great Western Road (19.8) and Townhead (16.8).

In 2021,  only one of the eight areas was above the legal limit - Glasgow Central Station at 45.1. The LEZ was extended to cars from 31st December of that year.

Glasgow’s LEZ scheme works differently from the clean air zones in Bath, Bristol and Birmingham, plus London’s ULEZ, because while those cities allow drivers to pay a fee of between £8 and £12.50 to enter, Glasgow’s LEZ bans older, more polluting cars outright in a model that is being rolled out by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

In the first two months since introduced the Glasgow LEZ fines have totalled nearly £600,000, with the number of fines increasing by 103% in July compared with June. It will be interesting to see the numbers shortly for August.

June 2023

 

July 2023

fines

penalty

total

 

fines

penalty

total

2922

 £         60

 £   175,320

 

5156

 £         60

 £ 309,360

0

 £       120

 £               -

 

689

 £       120

 £   82,680

0

 £       240

 £               -

 

87

 £       240

 £   20,880

0

 £       480

 £               -

 

1

 £       480

 £        480

2922

 

 £  175,320

 

5933

 

 £ 413,400

The action which has the potential of costing William Paton £200,000 reached nearly £50,000 on Friday 25th August when it received a £40,000 donation to his LEZ fight back fund website in the afternoon with the promise of another £60,000 available "when needed".

If you want to donate to the Fight Back Fund click here.  

The money will be going towards the  legal fees incurred by bringing the case before a judicial review. He was granted a review after commissioning a report on the impact of the first phase of LEZ.

Notes to the editor

For further information please contact:

Sonia Mattis or Kevin Stewart at news@carsvansandbikes.com

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