United Kingdom

Motorists fined £11,100 every day as Glasgow LEZ fines soar

The amount brought in from fines has risen by over two-and-a-half times over the four months from £173,820 in June to £457,800 in September. In July, some £405,780 was raised and in August it was £422,280.

Some 111 have been sanctioned with the maximum fine of £960 since enforcement began and has risen from none in June, as enforcement was bedding in, to 89 in September.

It comes as court action aimed at stopping the enforcement of Glasgow’s low emission zone (LEZ) failed.

READ MORE: Council accused of profiteering as Glasgow LEZ fines double

William Paton, the local garage owner who fronted a judicial review of the scheme saying that it was unlawful said the ruling from Lady Poole in the Court of Session was a “kick in the teeth”.

The Herald:

His lawyer told the court that data showed most air quality targets in the city centre had already been met.

Mr Paton, who runs a 60-year-old accident repair business in Glasgow’s Townhead believes that showed it was unnecessary for an LEZ to be introduced in Glasgow.

Lawyers for Glasgow City Council (GCC) and the Scottish government had been contesting the action.

Lady Poole dismissed the grounds of challenge saying they are “not well founded” and rejected claims that the consultation process was unlawful.

Enforcement using the penalty charges structure began in Glasgow from the start of June, and is expected to be brought in in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen in June, next year.

Glasgow City Council has been accused of “profiteering” as it was set to bring in hundreds of thousands of pounds in fines in the first two months of imposing penalties on drivers entering the LEZ.

At the centre of the city council challenge were concerns that the extension of the LEZ to cover cars was not required – because an initial phase directed at buses had already proved effective in meeting the legal standards.

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 the annual mean at the eight monitoring sites around Glasgow never exceeded 40 µg/m3 in 2022. The LEZ was extended to cars from December 31 of that year.

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).

The Herald: The new LEZ in Glasgow

In 2021, one of the eight was above the legal limit – Glasgow Central Station at 45.1.

Glasgow’s 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 copied in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

The square mile city centre LEZ zone is aimed at improving Glasgow’s air quality and unlike other UK cities has a fine structure working on an escalating scale.

When the LEZ zone was launched campaigners hailed the move as a “big moment” for the city that will save lives by giving residents “more breathable air”.

Road transport is estimated to be responsible for about 50% of total emissions of nitrogen oxides, which means that nitrogen dioxide levels are highest close to busy roads and in large urban areas. Gas boilers in buildings are also a source of nitrogen oxides.

When the first low-emission zone in Scotland was introduced in Glasgow from December 31, 2018, it was directed at buses.

Phase Two directed at cars came into effect in December 2022 while the scheme was enforced through fines by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) from the start of June, this year.

The escalating fines starting at £60 if their vehicles enter the area and do not meet emission standards – with petrol cars older than 2006 and diesel cars registered after September 2015 generally compliant. A second offence will see a penalty of £120 applied, a third £240, and the fourth maximum fine is £480.

The council says it is only aimed at a minority of older vehicles which are the most polluting – with up to 90% of cars thought to already meet the requirements.

It says that all revenue incurred in running Glasgow’s LEZ scheme itself, will only be used for activities that help reduce air pollution or contribute toward achieving our climate change targets.

But it has been heavily criticised by representatives from the hospitality and taxi trades who warn it could hammer the city’s beleaguered night-time economy – still reeling from Covid and the cost of living crisis.

Glasgow City Council said that to allow a period of familiarisation to the fines during its first month of operation June, non-compliant vehicles detected in Glasgow’s LEZ received a maximum of one Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in June 2023.

A council spokeswoman said: “Glasgow’s plan to phase in a Low Emission Zone was announced in 2018 to tackle the harmful air pollution that has blighted the city centre for decades, creating and exacerbating people’s health conditions and the city’s health inequalities, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable.

“We know from pre-enforcement modelling that the vast majority of vehicles driving into the zone already meet the emission standards however Glasgow’s LEZ addresses the most polluting vehicles which disproportionately create harmful concentrations of air pollution in the city centre.

“Scottish LEZs operate by way of a penalty system, set in legislation to discourage non-compliant vehicle entry and to maximise the air quality benefits that can be delivered.

“Surcharging, whereby the penalty charge rate doubles for subsequent LEZ breaches, commenced in July after an initial familiarisation period, and applies after the first, or most recent Penalty Charge Notice can be expected to have been received by the vehicle’s registered keeper.

“Penalties are reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days, with all revenue above that incurred in running Glasgow’s LEZ scheme itself, only used for activities that help reduce air pollution or contribute toward achieving our climate change targets.

“We would remind drivers that Glasgow’s LEZ is now fully in force and to familiarise themselves with its emissions requirements.”



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button