ULEZ: Five councils seek judicial review against planned expansion

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Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey are all seeking to challenge the move in the High Court

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) on August 29 into Greater London is to be challenged in court by five councils.

Local authorities in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey announced on Thursday that they will seek a judicial review against the plans, citing a shortfall in consultation and a lack of cost-benefit analysis.

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The ULEZ expansion would see drivers of older, more polluting vehicles charged a daily fee of £12.50 for driving into or within Greater London.

The current zone is bordered by the north and south circular roads, but mayor Khan wants to expand ULEZ to the Greater London Authority boundary.

Sadi Khan

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said: “Neither the GLA nor TfL have been served with their claim. We will be defending any challenge to this vital scheme.

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to air pollution. The mayor is determined to protect the lives of Londoners who are growing up with stunted lungs and more at risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia due to our toxic air.”

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They added: “The mayor urges the councils involved to abandon this costly and unnecessary legal challenge and instead focus on the health of those they represent.”

High Court challenge

The councils want to bring a challenge to the High Court on the following grounds:

  1. Failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements
  2. Failure to consider expected compliance rates in outer London
  3. Lack of consultation on the proposed scrappage scheme
  4. Failure to carry out any cost benefit analysis
  5. Inadequate consultation of residents in the area.

The councils

Cllr Ian Edwards, leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "ULEZ is the wrong solution in outer London as it will have negligible or nil impact on air quality but will cause significant social and economic harm to our residents.”

Cllr Baroness O’Neill, leader of the London Borough of Bexley, 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.”

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She added: “We believe he should give the monies that he has allocated to ULEZ to the boroughs who actually understand outer London.”

Cllr Colin Smith, leader of Bromley Council, said: “We have been sounding the alarm about Mayor Khan’s attempted tax raid on the outer ‘London’ suburbs for many months now. The fundamental truth as to his true intention is now increasingly plain for all to see.

“In Bromley, this socially regressive tax directly threatens jobs, the viability and availability of small businesses, and causing significant damage to vital care networks, as well as creating a completely avoidable spike in the cost of living locally, at a time when some households are already struggling to make ends meet. ”

Surrey County Council Tim Oliver said: “We are committed to delivering a greener future, but it must be done in a practical and sustainable way. We are dismayed at the lack of discussion or consideration given to these proposals by the mayor of London. 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.

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“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.”

Boris Johnson

Former prime minister Boris Johnson, whose Uxbridge seat lies within the borough of Hillingdon, has come out in opposition to the expansion of ULEZ, saying: “It will hit hardworking families and businesses in outer London with an unfair tax grab.”

Khan responded to the criticism by saying: “Johnson was the mayor who took no action 10 years ago when he was given a report that showed that there were more than 400 schools in areas where the air was unlawful, some of the poorest parts of the country.”

The mayor added: “We’ll take no lectures from a former prime minister and former mayor who ignored the science and facts.”

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