ULEZ expansion latest news: Judicial review into Sadiq Khan’s transport scheme to proceed to trial

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TfL is planning to extend the ULEZ to include all of greater London on August 29 this year.

Sadiq Khan’s planned Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) extension has taken a hit after a judicial review launched by five opposing councils has been given the green light to proceed to trial.

The London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon and Harrow, plus Surrey County Council, looked to challenge the mayor and Transport for London (TfL) on five grounds, two of which have now been accepted as arguable by the High Court.

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They relate to an alleged failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements, and the claim that the proposed scrappage scheme was not properly consulted upon.

A spokesperson for the mayor however said that the the latter ground was noted as “on the cusp” of being arguable, and that at this stage the court is only required to make a decision as to whether or not the claim can be challenged. No decision has been made about the scheme’s lawfulness.

Nick Rogers AM, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: “The High Court has now ruled there is sufficient evidence that Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ decision may have been unlawful.

“The mayor clearly does not have the legal grounds to proceed with his ULEZ tax plans, which take money from charities, small businesses and low income Londoners who cannot afford a new car.

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“Sadiq Khan should do the right thing, immediately stop work on his ULEZ expansion, and explain his actions to the court.”

A map showing the area to be covered by the planned expansion to the ULEZ. Credit: TfL/Google. A map showing the area to be covered by the planned expansion to the ULEZ. Credit: TfL/Google.
A map showing the area to be covered by the planned expansion to the ULEZ. Credit: TfL/Google. | TfL/Google

Mr Khan’s spokesperson said: “The mayor is pleased to see the court has refused permission for the majority of the grounds. We will continue to robustly defend his life-saving decision to expand the ULEZ and continue with preparations without delay.

“It is a shame that some local authorities have chosen to attempt this costly and misguided legal challenge instead of focusing on the health of those they represent.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to air pollution. This is a health emergency and the mayor is not prepared to stand by and do nothing while Londoners are growing up with stunted lungs and are more at risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia due to our toxic air.”

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Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and deputy chair of the transport committee, Caroline Pidgeon AM, said: “We all agree tackling air pollution is one of the most important issues for Londoners. Poor air quality is literally costing lives.

“However, any expansion of ULEZ should come with investment in public transport to offset the costs for communities in outer London.

“So far we’ve failed to see any such commitment from this Labour mayor. Instead, we have had PR exercises such as Superloop which primarily consisted of rebranded existing routes and hopeful future ones, rather than genuinely expanding public transport options.

“The mayor should have backed our budget amendment which doubled the scrappage fund, opening it up to everyone, alongside more buses, to mitigate the ULEZ expansion.”

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Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam and minister for London, tweeted: “Excellent news that court challenge to #ULEZ expansion by 5 pioneering councils gets the green light to proceed. The Mayor should just accept that he needs to go back and think again how he can take Londoners along with him rather than punishing them.”

It is understood that a trial is expected in July.

What is the ULEZ?

The mayor’s intended expansion of the scheme will bring the whole of Greater London into the zone, with the extension penned in for August 29 this year.

Beyond that date, most drivers of non-compliant vehicles will be liable to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

Mr Khan has previously described the ULEZ extension as “necessary”, as “around 4,000 Londoners are dying prematurely every year due to toxic air, children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses attributable to pollution, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma”.

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