Keir Starmer clashes with Sadiq Khan over Ulez as he insists there are 'other ways' to cut pollution

14 August 2023, 21:02

Cities should look at other options for tackling air pollution instead of schemes like Ulez, Sir Keir Starmer has suggested.
Cities should look at other options for tackling air pollution instead of schemes like Ulez, Sir Keir Starmer has suggested. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has clashed with Sadiq Khan over the Ulez scheme, insisting there are alternatives to tackling pollution.

The Labour leader said no-one in the UK should be "breathing dirty air" but added that proposals for reducing air pollution should not have a disproportionate impact on people's pockets during the cost-of-living crisis.

London's Ulez will be expanded to cover Greater London from August 29, a move overseen by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

But Sir Keir has asked Mr Khan to reflect on the policy's impact following last month's Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election result.

Labour had hoped to win former PM Boris Johnson's seat from the Conservatives, but said Ulez was a dividing issue that saw the Tories retain the seat.

Read more: Moment 'Blade Runner' takes down Ulez cameras in front of bemused diners after vow to keep attacking eco-scheme

Read more: Ulez expansion rules: Map, start date and whether your vehicle is compliant

'I'm simply unwilling to delay' Ulez expansion, says Sadiq Khan as financial aid is announced

When asked whether Labour's policy on clean air zones had changed since his party lost the by-election, Sir Keir said: "Let me tell you what I want to change: I want clean air.

"I don't think anybody in this country should be breathing dirty air, any more than I think they should be drinking dirty water.

"What I don't want is schemes that disproportionately impact on people in the middle of the cost-of-living crisis, so we need to look at options for achieving what we all need to achieve, which is clean air.

"There are other ways of achieving this, so my driving principle is clean air, absolutely yes, but a proportionate way of getting there and looking at what the options are for other cities, other places doing it in different ways."

Sadiq Khan has 'mightily annoyed' Londoners by delaying Ulez scrappage scheme says Tim Leunig

Sadiq Khan has argued that Ulez is vital for tackling air pollution and said most cars on London's streets are compliant.

He also created a widespread scrappage scheme that offers financial help for people, businesses and charities that need to replace their car.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ordered a review into low traffic neighbourhoods and other plans aimed at curbing traffic and pollution in city and town centres.