A decision at the Court of Session in Scotland to allow BP and Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food to sell alcohol at its forecourts in Edinburgh and Glasgow is expected to open the floodgates for more off licence applications north of the border.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 had aimed to ensure that only garage forecourts that could prove they were the main source of groceries and fuel in a certain area would be able to continue selling alcohol. However, the Act was open to interpretation which meant some areas allowed forecourts to sell alcohol while others didn’t.

The new judgement by Lord Eassie said the test should be whether local people would be "materially disadvantaged or inconvenienced were that shop not to provide those retail facilities", which was a much looser requirement than that previously required by Edinburgh and Glasgow licensing boards.

This latest ruling follows an appeal by BP and Marks & Spencer against a ruling three years ago banning the sale of alcohol at their garage forecourts in the two cities.

BP is now expected to request off licences at other sites and similar applications are expected from Sainsbury and Tesco.