London Mayor Sadiq Khan has decided to expand the London ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) across all London boroughs from next August, despite massive objections to the expansion.
From August 29, 2023, drivers of older cars that do not comply with either Euro 5 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions standards will have to pay £12.50 a day to use their vehicle in any Greater London borough.
Mayor Khan said the move would bring cleaner air to 5 million more residents – but many believe the decision will impose a tax upon poorer residents at a time of immense financial pressure. Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon have announced they will ‘examine the legal basis of the plan.
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Exemptions and Incentives
The proposals do include exemptions for taxis, specialist vehicles, private hire vehicles carrying wheelchair users and NHS patient transport. The daily charge would apply to residents living within the ULEZ, but only on the days they drive a non-compliant vehicle.
Khan said a £110m scrappage scheme would be introduced to help vulnerable people and small businesses and improve bus services in the suburbs. Under the scheme, people who dispose of non-compliant cars will given two free annual bus and tram passes, as well as a grant.
Objectors to the scheme said a consultation earlier in the year showed that most people in outer boroughs do not want it. They claimed the impact on air quality in the outer boroughs would be minimal.
The suburbs are revolting against Sadiq’s plan
Sadiq Khan is facing a fight as the “donut boroughs” are openly against the plan. Bromley council leader Colin Smith said his borough had teamed up with other Tory-run councils, including Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon, to ‘examine the legal basis’ of the plan.
They were considering options on how best to serve the Mayor’s office with an official letter“seeking further information to demonstrate the lawfulness of the decision.
Colin Smith has received support from other outer boroughs, including Harrow, Hillingdon, Croydon, Sutton, Havering and Kingston. They have all expressed their willingness to fight City Hall over the ULEZ. However, City Hall did hit back, insisting the Mayor is ‘committed to doing all he can to build a greener, safer London for everyone.’
Opposition against the ULEZ expansion
Expanding the scheme to the suburbs requires installing 2,750 enforcement cameras that read number plates to check non-compliant vehicles. However, Sutton and Harrow have stated this week that they will refuse to sign the “section 8” agreement to allow TfL to install the cameras on roads. This could majorly delay Khan’s rollout.
Some in the outer boroughs believe they should be given more time to upgrade their cars, because air quality is much better the further out from central London that you travel.
Mayor of Croydon Jason Perry said City Hall’s Integrated Impact Assessment “concludes that the air quality improvements in Croydon from extending ULEZ are very small”. He has submitted a response to the TfL consultation, making the case against the expansion.
Kingston and Surbiton MP Sir Ed Davey has said, “Pushing through Ulez without a proper car scrappage scheme or further investment in public transport is frankly reckless, especially in the middle of a cost of living crisis”. He continues that people are already struggling financially and some older people will struggle to switch cars.
Conservatives in City Hall have accused Khan of giving “false and misleading” information about the expansion plans.
Sadiq Khan is standing strong against unhappy boroughs
Conservative GLA member Nick Rogers asked the mayor during Question Time: “Would TfL use reserve powers and enforce ULEZ infrastructure onto borough roads against their will?” Mr Khan responded: “TfL will explore all avenues open to them. I do not want to be taken into hypotheticals. TfL is speaking to all boroughs, and I hope that leads to a resolution.”
Labour-run town halls in the capital’s suburbs have been more enthusiastic about the scheme. But several Tory parliamentary seats in the areas impacted, including Chipping Barnet, Finchley and Boris Johnson’s seat in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, are key Labour targets at the next election.
After being asked at Mayor’s Question Time whether TfL will use its ‘reserve powers’ to force cameras on the boroughs, Mr Khan answered cryptically: ‘TfL will explore all avenues open to them. TfL is speaking to all boroughs and I’m hoping it will lead to a resolution.’ The Mayor followed that Bromley had the highest number of premature deaths from the consequences of air pollution, 204, followed by 162 in Bexley, 105 in Hillingdon and 118 in Harrow.
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