Glasgow LEZ hangs in balance following judicial review

The Low Emission Zone in Scotland’s largest city has undergone a ‘substantive hearing’ to ascertain its effectiveness and legality. 

a truck driving down a street next to tall buildings

Designed to take the most polluting vehicles off roads and in turn bring air pollution down, the scheme came into operation in June this year, leaving opinion divided on its merits. 

Anti-LEZ campaigners have presented evidence including air quality studies which indicate Glasgow’s targets on clean air have already been met. However, Glasgow City Council has pointed to illegal nitrogen dioxide levels in the area as a key cause for concern, a noxious gas linked to a number of serious health complications. A judicial heating began on Tuesday 17th October and concluded the following day, in which it cases were presented for and against the continuation of the scheme.

‘When looking at proportionality overall, this court ought to give due weight to the decision of a democratic and publicly accountable local authority when considering whether or not a fair balance has been struck as between the public interest with a legitimate aim on one side and the impact on the person whose rights are said to have been infringed,’ said Ruth Crawford KC, acting on behalf of Glasgow City Council. 

A decision will be given by Judge Lady Poole at a later date. 

The Scottish Government currently has LEZs planned for Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh, all of which are set to come into effect next year and are likely to meet similar opposition. Across the UK, air quality regulations have been widely criticised for failing to update in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended limits. Meanwhile, experts frequently argue that regulations fail to support the idea that no amount of air pollution is ‘safe’, with greenhouse and other toxic gases in the air directly contributing to health problems in local populations. 

More on emissions: 

Active travel lessons from the world’s most cycle-friendly city

‘Plan for motorists’ cannot ignore need for fairer, greener transport

Emissions monitoring tech needed for ‘North Sea roadmap’


Images: Giorgio Trovato


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