A lost legal challenge aimed at stopping the enforcement of Glasgow's low emission zone (LEZ) has cost campaigners £130,000 it can be revealed.

William Paton, the local garage owner who fronted a judicial review of the scheme  saying it was unlawful said the ruling from Lady Poole in the Court of Session was a "kick in the teeth" as he considered whether there was scope for an appeal.

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.

Now it has emerged Lady Poole dismissed the grounds of challenge saying they are "not well founded" and rejected claims that the consultation process was unlawful.

READ MORE: Over 180-a-day fined for breaching Glasgow's Low Emission Zone

She said: "The modelling information before GCC entitled it to consider there remained a problem with NO₂ emissions that it required to address. In these circumstances, the inference cannot properly be drawn that there was an absence of conscientious and open-minded consideration of relevant matters by GCC.

The Herald: Lady Poole.

"LEZ scheme is not unlawful as a result of predetermination and improper consultation."

Angus Millar, city convener for transport and climate welcomed the judgment which he said ensures the continuance of Glasgow’s LEZ scheme which has been in force since June.

“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," he said.

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.

It earlier emerged that in the past two months an average of 182 drivers have been fined per day for entering the LEZ zone in Glasgow.

Glasgow City Council was 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.

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.

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 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 Herald: LEZ Glasgow

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, one of the eight was above the legal limit - Glasgow Central Station at 45.1.

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

But Lady Poole said: "It was not a mistake of fact for GCC to reach its conclusion merely because other methodologies might be applied by other people to reach a different conclusion. The information available to GCC gave it a basis reasonably to conclude that if there was a LEZ, NO₂ levels in the city centre would decrease, and air quality standards would both be attained and maintained.

"The LEZ would contribute to meeting legally required air quality standards. It was lawful, and not irrational, for GCC to conclude the low emission zone properly had as an objective that it would contribute to meeting the air quality standards, as required by section 14(4)(a) of the 2019 Act. The petitioner’s first ground of challenge is not well founded."

The decision was welcomed by Asthma + Lung UK Scotland which said: “Air pollution is the biggest environmental threats to public health. It costs Scotland £1.1bn per year, draining our resources, straining our health care system and cutting short roughly 2,700 lives.

“LEZs do require us to make changes to the way we work and live and this is why it's essential that proper support is in place to help people transition to cleaner and greener forms of transport.

“We are looking forward to further roll outs of the scheme in Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen next year helping more people in Scotland breathe cleaner air.”

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.

A Glasgow LEZ Fightback spokesman said: “The LEZ Fightback team are clearly very disappointed and somewhat surprised the judgment was arrived at so speedily. William Paton and the team will consider their position. The war on motorists is relentless and apart from the fact that the pollution levels are well within acceptable levels we all feel that Glasgow City Council and the SNP/Green alliance seem determined to turn the city into a ghost town.

"It is worth remembering that the council have never measured the pollution levels before bringing in LEZ and that the figures they based their case on were from traffic modelling done in 2017. Their sleight of hand is intolerable.”

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.