TOUGH new rules which will attempt to price out polluting drivers from travelling through Glasgow’s city centre come into force today.

Those in favour of the plans – which were nearly blocked in an eleventh-hour court challenge on Wednesday – have said they will save lives by reducing traffic and air pollution in Scotland’s biggest city, while those opposed claim they will function as a tax on people who must drive for work.

The Glasgow Low Emission Zone (LEZ) covers the city centre bounded by the M8 to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south, and the High Street and Saltmarket to the east.

Drivers of exempt vehicles, which include most diesel cars registered after 2015 and most petrol cars registered from 2006 as well as blue badge holders and emergency vehicles, will not be charged for entering the LEZ.

But those who drive non-exempt vehicles will be charged £60 for their first incursion. Fines for driving a non-compliant vehicle can be as high as £480 for repeat offenders.

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The £60 fine will be halved if it is paid within a fortnight – but the amount will double with each subsequent breach of the rules.

Charges for cars and light goods vehicles is capped at £480, while busses and HGVs can be charged as much as £960 for serial offences. If there is no breach of the rules within 90 days of a violation, the surcharge rate resets to the £60 base level.

Glasgow is the first city in Scotland to introduce such a measure, with Edinburgh set to follow in 2024. Similar initiatives are in place in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford.

There are concerns from some quarters the charge could penalise taxi drivers, some of whom drive cabs which are not compliant with the scheme.

Labour called for a delay to the scheme’s introduction to allow more time for business to adapt to the changes.

But the Scottish Greens, long-standing advocates of the scheme, said these objections were “opportunism” from the opposition.

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The Scottish Green MSP for Glasgow, Patrick Harvie, said: “This is a big moment and a vital precedent. It will save lives. 

“The air pollution in our city has been unacceptably poor for decades, and that has had a profound and damaging impact. It has been a long time coming, but this is a big step towards a cleaner, greener future for Glasgow.”

Scottish Green councillor Jon Molyneux said: “Glasgow has made a long overdue step to cleaner, safer air, more than a decade after Scottish Greens started to raise the alarm over pollution levels.  

"The city’s Low Emission Zone will prioritise the health of thousands of Glaswegians who are at risk from toxic air, but we can and must go further. There is no safe level of pollution.

“City politicians who have opposed this modest LEZ need to have a word with themselves. The climate crisis will demand more radical action in the months and years ahead and that needs leadership, not unprincipled opportunism.”