Another legal challenge to Ulez expansion fails as judge rules bid to pause scheme would be 'impossible to grant'

14 September 2023, 13:43 | Updated: 14 September 2023, 16:58

Ulez expanded in August this year
Ulez expanded in August this year. Picture: Alamy
Fraser Knight

By Fraser Knight

Another challenge to reverse the Ulez expansion to outer London boroughs has been thrown out by the High Court.

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The case was made by Chris White and Ed Gregory, who crowdfunded more than £23,500 to support the legal action against Transport for London’s (TfL) expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission zone (Ulez), which came into effect last month.

Since August 29, anyone driving more polluting cars within Greater London has had to pay £12.50 per day.

It was argued in court that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, lacked the legal powers to impose charges on drivers, based on how much emissions their vehicles emitted.

The claim read: "The Decision of the Mayor to expand Ulez was unlawful in that the Mayor’s stated objective in making the decision to impose road charging, ‘to clean up London’s toxic air and tackle the climate emergency’ is not an objective mandated by the Greater London Authority Act 1999."

Ulez expanded in August
Ulez expanded in August. Picture: Alamy

But Charlotte Kilroy KC, acting on behalf of TfL and the Mayor of London, told the court that "couldn’t be further from the truth".

"The Act says a charging scheme may only be made if it’s done to achieve any policies or proposals set out in the Mayor’s transport strategy,” she said.

"And unsurprisingly the Mayor’s strategy includes the fact that he will seek to address the challenge of toxic air pollution and the climate emergency."

An interim application had been made, calling for TfL to temporarily pause the expanded Ulez until after a full judicial review had been heard.

Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan. Picture: Alamy

Mrs Justice Cockerill declared that given the scheme had begun, the costs involved in doing that would be "enormous" and that the injunction sought "would be impossible to grant".

TfL had promised to repay the amount of money it has netted since the expansion of the Ulez if it is deemed unlawful.

The agency expects the expanded Ulez to net as much as £300 million in the first year, although that figure could drop as low as £100 million.

According to that estimate, Ulez could be making as much as £822,000 per day.

Caller exchanges in a heated debate as police investigate claims of hundreds of Ulez camera attacks

The judge also hit out at the considerable amount of court time that has been used dealing with Ulez-related court challenges, after a similar case was brought by five Conservative councils - which failed.

Justice Cockerill said: "This claim is one that has absorbed a good deal of time and cost. More court resources have been used than should’ve been used through multiple applications."

“I can see no real basis on why this needs any further consideration. The correct answer to this case is to say that the application is dismissed.”

Acting on behalf of Mr White and Mr Gregor, Phillip Coppell KC, requested permission to appeal, which was refused.

However, Justice Cockerill said he was "entitled to try elsewhere".

Mr Gregory confirmed to LBC that he plans to seek permission to continue to the case at the Court of Appeal.

Read more: Now Ulez 'blade runners' start targeting camera vans - as they are graffitied, vandalised and have their tyres slashed

Read more: Sadiq Khan deploys Ulez vans to catch drivers after wave of vigilante vandalism on cameras