After five councils (Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey) began taking legal action against the proposed expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in February this year, a judge has now approved the local authorities’ request for a judicial review in High Court.
However, the judge ruled that just two of the five grounds presented so far by the councils were “arguable”.
All of the local authorities involved in the court challenge are Conservative-led. However, there has also been opposition from Labour politicians surrounding the initiative, with MPs writing to transport secretary Mark Harper yesterday to ask for improved financial accommodations for those driving into London from outside the extended ULEZ boundary.
The letter was penned by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, MP for Slough, with other signatories including MPs for areas connected to London, such as Canterbury, Reading, Portsmouth, Brighton and Southampton.
In the letter, Dhesi said: “Areas like Slough are unfairly losing out on ULEZ scrappage scheme funds, which would benefit constituents and tackle the climate crisis.
“…We ask you to provide our areas, which border or are close to the capital, access to a scrappage fund so our constituents can replace their older polluting vehicles with greener ones.
“This will not only be a huge help to our residents during a cost-of-living crisis, it will contribute positively to achieving the government’s net zero target and plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.”
Last November, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, announced that the ULEZ would be expanded to cover all of outer London by 29 August.
If the scheme is expanded, from 29 August onwards vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ emissions standards will face a daily charge of £12.50.
Khan’s scrappage scheme was established to provide financial support to disabled Londoners, those on qualifying benefits and small businesses looking to replace their vehicles or use alternative transport options.
So far, more than £100m has been allocated to the fund – with an upper limit of £2,000 being made available to those who scrap their car or £5,000 for van and minibus owners.
Despite the ruling, Sadiq Khan has pledged to continue pursuing the expansion, which he says is necessary to combat high air pollution levels across London that he has linked to ‘thousands of premature deaths’ every year.