Five councils launch legal challenge to dispute Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion

16 February 2023, 18:56

Sadiq Khan and TfL is facing a backlash over its plans to extend ULEZ to cover all of London
Sadiq Khan and TfL is facing a backlash over its plans to extend ULEZ to cover all of London. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Four London councils and one Surrey council have launched a legal challenge into the decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover the entire capital city.

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced in November that from August 29 this year, the ULEZ zone will cover the whole of London.

The London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon and Surrey County Council have now launched a judicial review into the Mayor and TfL's decision.

The coalition of councils said it is challenging the decision on five grounds, including a perceived "lack of consultation" on the plans and a failure to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of the expansion.

They also claim the Mayor of London and TfL have failed to comply with "relevant statutory requirements" and have not considered compliance rates in outer London, which they deem an "unlawful failure".

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Picture: Getty

The proposed scrapage scheme was also not consulted upon, the councils added.

Mr Khan previously said extending the ultra-low emission zone to cover the whole of the city was "one of the toughest decisions I've taken".

But he has insisted air pollution is making Londoners "sick from cradle to the grave", with illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma, and said he wants to remain "on the right side of history" by expanding ULEZ.

Read More: 'Another unwelcome hit on working people': Four senior London Labour MPs slam Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion plans

Read More: London ULEZ zone expands to cover ENTIRE capital from next year, Sadiq Khan announces

ULEZ will cover all of London from August 29
ULEZ will cover all of London from August 29. Picture: Getty

Addressing the joint legal challenge, leader of the London Borough of Bexley Baroness O’Neill said: “We have been clear from the start that we believe air quality is important but that ULEZ is the wrong solution.

"By wanting to expand ULEZ to outer London boroughs it appears that the Mayor’s message is you can pollute as long as you can afford the £12.50.

“We believe he should give the monies that he has allocated to ULEZ to the boroughs who actually understand outer London and the transport connectivity problems our residents face to come up with innovative solutions that will deliver better, more practical results.

“We are also very concerned about the mental wellbeing of our residents who we know are already anxious about the installation of ULEZ and the very real prospect that they won’t be able to use their cars to get to work, visit relatives and friends, shop or attend health appointments.

“We are standing up for our residents who have given us a clear message of what they think of his plan.”

Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver
Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver. Picture: Twitter

Read More: London ULEZ zone expands to cover ENTIRE capital from next year, Sadiq Khan announces

Read More: "Difficult year" to go ahead with Ulez as people struggle with cost of living, says Martin Lewis

Meanwhile, leader of Surrey County council Tim Oliver said the council was "dismayed at the lack of discussion given" to the ULEZ expansion by Sadiq Khan.

"The impact on many Surrey residents and businesses will be significant and we will not stand by and watch that happen with no mitigations offered from the Mayor," he said.

“To date, our requests for due consideration to be given to these mitigations have not been acknowledged, let alone acted upon.

"It’s disappointing that we, along with other local authorities, have to resort to legal proceedings to try and bring the Mayor of London to the table, but we have no choice but to do so.”

Sadiq Khan says he will take ‘no lectures’ from Boris Johnson over ULEZ plans

It comes after LBC's revelation that four leading London Labour MPs are calling on Sadiq Khan to backtrack on his plans to extend the ULEZ zone.

Labour MPs Seema Malhotra, Jon Cruddas, Siobhain McDonagh and Abena Oppong-Asare told LBC this week they have significant concerns regarding the scheme’s expansion.

Speaking to LBC News, Labour's Abena Oppong-Asare said: "My concern is we don't want to be in a situation where people are going to be worse off."

Meanwhile, the Shadow Exchequer Secretary told LBC News she has raised her concerns with Mr Khan.

Seema Malhotra, currently Labour’s Shadow Business and Consumers Minister, told LBC: "Whilst I share the goal of reducing pollution and increasing air quality, I am very concerned about the economic impact the current roll-out plans will have on residents and small businesses."

The Labour MP for Feltham and Heston in the west of the capital, said the plans will have a "disproportionate effect on lower income families and the self-employed who use their vehicle for work".

Impassioned caller confronts Sadiq Khan over the ULEZ expansion

TfL estimates that on an average day about 160,000 cars and 42,000 vans that use London's roads would be liable for the £12.50 ULEZ fee.

The expansion will force tens of thousands of those drivers in more polluting vehicles to switch to vehicles that comply with the minimum emissions standards or to dump their cars altogether.

City Hall says the expansion will mean five million Londoners will breathe cleaner air.

Whether or not a vehicle is liable for the charge depends on how much nitrogen dioxide it emits.

For diesel cars and vans to avoid the charge they must generally have been registered from 2016, while most petrol models registered from 2006 are exempt.

Drivers can check the status of their vehicle by entering its registration number on TfL's website.

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