Pro-pollution Tory politicians in and around London were dealt a heavy blow as a High Court judge dismissed their challenge against the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone. The politically-inspired legal case is estimated to have cost Council Tax-payers in Bromley, Bexley, Surrey, Harrow and Hillingdon, and across all of London, at least £1million.
The zone currently extends as far as the South and North Circulars, but from the end of August it will be expanded to include most of outer London, including Croydon, requiring the owners of the most polluting vehicles to pay to drive, or find other, less-polluting ways to get around.
Croydon’s pro-pollution Mayor, Conservative Jason Perry, said that he had considered joining the group action against ULEZ, but that he could not because of the cash-strapped council’s lack of cash…
That left it to Perry’s fellow Tories in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, along with Surrey County Council, to stage the six-month legal case, all paid for out of their residents’ Council Tax.
The Tory councils were given permission to argue three grounds of challenge against the Mayor of London and Transport for London out of five advanced in their original claim. The other two grounds were rejected outright by the High Court.
Their barristers had made the case at the High Court that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had failed to adequately consult, overstepped his powers, and had provided a flawed £110million scrappage scheme.
In his verdict today, Mr Justice Swift found that the legal basis on which Mayor Khan made the decision to expand ULEZ was sound and in line with previous decisions on charging within the capital.
The judge said he was “satisfied that the Mayor’s decision… was within his powers”, and that enough information was given for people who wished to respond to provide “informed responses”.
The consultation on the scrappage scheme was “not in depth”, but was “lawful”, he said.
Mayor Khan immediately confirmed he would expand the zone as planned on August 29, and extend the remit of the scrappage scheme to help more affected Londoners – including all those in receipt of child benefit payments.
According to the World Health Organization, every outer London borough exceeds the safe limit for NO2 and PM2.5 toxic air particles.
Outer London has the greatest number of premature deaths from air pollution. It is also home to more than half of the 500,000 Londoners who live with asthma and are more vulnerable to the impacts of toxic air.
“Delaying by even a year puts thousands more Londoners at risk of having their lives cut short,” Mayor Khan said. “That’s why we can’t afford to wait.”
Responding to the judgement, Mayor Khan described it as a “very significant High Court ruling”.
“The Mayor has always said that the decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was difficult and not something he takes lightly – and he continues to do everything possible to address concerns Londoners may have,” City Hall said in a statement.
“ULEZ is a highly targeted scheme aimed at taking the most polluting vehicles off the roads. Nine out of ten cars seen driving regularly in outer London on an average day are already ULEZ compliant and will not pay a penny when the zone expands, while still benefiting from cleaner air.”
Around 4,000 Londoners die each year prematurely due to causes linked to air pollution, with the greatest number of premature deaths in outer London. “Mayoral policies, such as the central London ULEZ, have helped reduce the number of children admitted to hospital with asthma and other respiratory diseases by 30per cent,” City Hall said today.
“This landmark decision is good news as it means we can proceed with cleaning up the air in outer London on August 29,” Mayor Khan said this morning.
“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.”
Around 300 new ULEZ cameras are being installed across outer London, in preparation for the zone being extended. TfL expects to spend £60million to £75million on cameras and road signs, and for the total cost of the expansion to be between £130million and £140million.
Driving in the expanded ULEZ zone will cost those without an emissions-compliant vehicle £12.50 per day.
- Inside Croydon – as seen on TV! – has been delivering local community news since 2010. 3million page views per year in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
- If you want real journalism, actually based in the borough, you should consider paying for it. Please sign up today. Click here for more details
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- As featured on Google News Showcase
- We offer FREE ads to community groups when they have members who are paid subscribers to Inside Croydon
- Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine