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Minister tells Sadiq Khan 'no legal barriers' stop him sending scrapped cars to Ukraine in Ulez row after he blames govt
31 January 2024, 12:59 | Updated: 31 January 2024, 13:06
There are no legal barriers to sending non-Ulez compliant cars to Ukraine, Sadiq Khan has been told.
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He was criticised for apparently getting too wrapped up in the red tape of his Ulez scrappage scheme, which allows drivers to hand in cars that don't meet emissions standards and claim up to £2,000 for a new vehicle.
Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv's mayor, had asked him to send cars destined to be scrapped - many of which were expected to be 4x4s and pick-up trucks - to help save lives and provide transport.
But Mr Khan late last year told him the idea had not met a "legal threshold" which requires the Ulez scheme to benefit Londoners from an "economic, social and environmental perspective".
He then called on Mark Harper, the transport secretary, to give Londoners permission to donate their vehicles to Ukraine and still get paid to do so.
Mr Harper has now responded to Mr Khan - telling him the Department for Transport does "not consider there to be any legal barrier to allowing vehicles to be donated to Ukraine".
In a letter published on Wednesday, he said: "You have identified legal obstacles that relate to the processes and design of your scheme... You say you need robust assurance that cars donated to Ukraine will not find their way back to London's roads.
"The Ukrainian Embassy has helpfully confirmed to my officials that Ukrainian law prevents the sale of property of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and that, by decree, right-hand drive vehicles can only be driven in Ukraine by members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
"I am sure that you will also consider this reasonable certainty that vehicles donated to Ukraine through your scheme are highly unlikely to leave the hands of the Ukrainian Army and to return to the UK."
He said the DVLA would also be willing to leave a note on a vehicle's record saying that it had been exported to Ukraine, which would "support your scheme processes" and "prevent multiple scrappage payments being paid for the same vehicle and mitigates the risk of fraud".
He said DfT officials would help as soon as he confirms he will donate cars to Ukraine through the Ulez scrappage scheme.
The Ukraine row was the latest in a series of arguments over Ulez, which now covers all of London.
Mr Khan has maintained it is essential to cutting emissions and improving Londoners' health.
But it was criticised for clamping down on the least wealthy by targeting older cars. Drivers whose vehicles don't meet the rules have to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
Sir Keir Starmer has distanced himself from such schemes, while the Tories had looked into whether using a kind of pro-motorist stance would help boost their election prospects.
"Encouraging news from the transport secretary - let's keep working together to get this done," Mr Khan tweeted.