A “draconian” Scottish Ulez-style scheme was implemented in Glasgow despite air quality improving, a court has heard.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland’s supreme civil court, is being urged to rule that the city’s low emission zone (LEZ), which was rolled out in the summer, is “irrational” and therefore unlawful.
The net zero policy sees motorists pay a fine of at least £60 if they drive into the city centre in a vehicle that does not meet strict emissions standards.
The penalty increases for every subsequent breach of the rules, up to a cap of £480 for cars and £960 for buses and HGVs.
However, Lord Davidson KC, representing businesses and campaigners who want the policy abandoned, argued the zone was unnecessary as data showed that air quality had been improving already with the trend set to continue.
“The submission is that the Low Emission Zone scheme is illegal as air quality objectives have been met already and they were continuing to be met by the time the Low Emission Zone was brought into operation in the city centre,” he said.
“To bring the scheme into being was an irrational decision by the council.”
The legal challenge has been brought by a company called Patons Accident Repair Centre, which is based within the LEZ boundary, in the Townhead area of Glasgow.
Paul McManus, drummer with the Scottish rock band Gun and previously a Labour Party donor, has pledged £100,000 to the campaign, claiming the policy will hit the poorest hardest.
The SNP-run administration in Glasgow has insisted the LEZ is needed as poor air quality is a “clear social justice issue” and was causing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer among residents.
However, Lord Davidson said that in recent years 25 out of the 27 air monitoring stations in Glasgow have recorded “downward trends” of nitrogen dioxide, which the scheme is designed to reduce.