Sadiq Khan imposed over London traffic

ULEZ expansion to go ahead after High Court ruling

Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion will go ahead next month after a High Court judge ruled it was lawful.

A coalition of five Conservative-run councils launched legal action in February, aiming to prevent Khan’s plan to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone to the whole of London.

The zone will expand to cover all 32 London boroughs on 29 August, with a £12.50 daily charge for any cars that aren’t compliant.

Khan hailed the “landmark” decision as good news, and said he will proceed with cleaning up outer London’s air.

He added: “The decision to expand the ULEZ was very difficult and not something I took lightly and I continue to do everything possible to address any concerns Londoners may have.

“I’ve been listening to Londoners throughout the ULEZ rollout, which is why from next week I am expanding the scrappage scheme to nearly a million families who receive child benefit and all small businesses with up to 50 employees.

“I will continue to look at new ideas to support Londoners.

“Nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already compliant so won’t pay a penny – yet will still see the benefits of cleaner air.

“Air pollution is an urgent public health crisis – our children are growing up with stunted lungs and it is linked to a host of serious conditions, from heart disease to cancer and dementia.

“This unambiguous decision today in the High Court allows us to press on with the difficult but vital task of cleaning up London’s air and tackling the climate crisis.”

London boroughs Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, along with Surrey County Council, had three grounds for their legal challenge to the scheme, but all three were rejected.

The councils claimed that Khan’s plans overstepped his lawful powers, that his consultation was insufficient and that his £110m scrappage scheme was flawed.

Judge Mr Justice Swift said that Khan acted within his powers as London’s mayor, rejected their claims on the consultation and said that the scrappage scheme was legal.

The coalition of councils released a statement, acknowledging the defeat but nevertheless questioning Khan’s “moral right” to expand the zone.

The statement also claimed Khan and Transport for London “do not realise the damage the extension will have to the lives of residents and businesses in outer London as well as those outside of its borders”.

The councils cited last week’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election as evidence that Londoners oppose the scheme.

Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “Even the Mayor’s own supporters are now saying that it is the wrong time to be expanding this scheme.

“Many thousands of low-income earners, vulnerable people ordinary workers and small businesses who are the beating heart of our borough will have to shoulder further costs which they cannot afford.

“It will cause even greater financial hardship and for some it will cause the loss of business or employment.”

Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, added: “Today’s decision cannot be disguised as anything other than bitter disappointment for motorists in general, traders who will now have to consider ceasing business and laying off staff, those who will now have to change jobs and, most desperately of all, people who will no longer be able to support vital care networks for vulnerable people across the whole of outer London in particular.”

Paul Osborn, Leader of the London Borough of Harrow, claimed the scheme was wrong for outer London, while Baroness O’Neill, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, called on the mayor to delay the scheme.

The Liberal Democrats have called for more financial support for Londoners.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and Transport Spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon said: “The Liberal Democrats have been clear throughout this saga, we support action to clean up London’s air, but this must be done with adequate financial support to help people through any changes.

“Twice in the London Assembly we have called on the Mayor to introduce a more generous scrappage scheme, yet both times Labour rejected our calls. This is despite us being in the worst cost-of-living in living memory.

“We will continue to push Sadiq Khan to introduce a more generous scrappage scheme and for a longer lead in time for the scheme to be introduced.”

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