ULEZ expansion High Court hearings: ‘Uncharted territory’ of clean-air zone, as court hearing ends

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Mr Justice Swift said he will aim to issue a decision on the ULEZ judicial review by the end of July.

Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the ULEZ took the scheme into “uncharted territory”, the High Court was told today, as the two-day hearing into the mayor’s clean-air zone came to an end.

Mr Craig Howell Williams KC, representing the five boroughs behind the judicial review, described the decision to expand the scheme by varying the current zone rather than introducing a new one from scratch as “problematic”.

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Concluding the case for the claimants - Hillingdon, Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Surrey councils - during the hearing’s second and final day, Mr Williams said the legal basis for the extension represented “uncharted territory”, with the planned expansion greater in scope than any of the previous amendments to the LEZ and ULEZ.

Currently covering the capital up to the north and south circular roads, the expanded ULEZ, planned for August 29, will incorporate the whole of greater London. Once implemented, most drivers of non-compliant vehicles will be liable to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

Mr Williams added that the mayor’s and Transport for London’s (TfL) position, that Mr Khan has the power to vary the scheme to such an extent, is “a far more problematic interpretation [of the law] than that of the claimants”.

Protesters outside the High Court for the final day of the judicial review into the ULEZ expansion. Credit: Ben Lynch.Protesters outside the High Court for the final day of the judicial review into the ULEZ expansion. Credit: Ben Lynch.
Protesters outside the High Court for the final day of the judicial review into the ULEZ expansion. Credit: Ben Lynch. | Ben Lynch

Earlier during today’s session, Mr Ben Jaffey KC, representing the mayor and TfL, which is listed as an “interested party”, told the court Mr Khan had considered involving areas outside of London in the scrappage scheme, but had rejected it due to limited funding.

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The councils had claimed there was a lack of consideration of non-Londoners in deciding the extent and eligibility of the support from the scrappage scheme, though Mr Jaffey said: “It could have extended further outside of London, but that would mean on the whole it would have been less targeted.”

He added there is a “prospect of those outside the zone avoiding it”, and that there are some exemptions for non-Londoners driving into the capital.

In his closing remarks, Mr Williams also touched on the councils’ third challenge, that the ULEZ consultation was “not sufficiently clear” for consultees to respond appropriately, with specific concerns around data informing the claim that 91% of vehicles in outer London will be compliant by the end of 2023.

“Was there enough information to allow for intelligent responses from the public as well as those with expertise?” he asked.

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The judge Mr Justice Swift ended the hearing by saying he understands this is a case where it will be “better to judge it sooner rather than later”, and that he intends on making a decision by the end of the month.

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