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ULEZ expansion plans face High Court challenge by five councils

Deniz Huseyin
20 April 2023
The ULEZ is due to expand to cover all London boroughs on 29 August
The ULEZ is due to expand to cover all London boroughs on 29 August

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) is to be challenged by five local authorities in the High Court later this year.

Four London boroughs – Hillingdon, Bexley, Bromley, Harrow – and Surrey County Council were granted permission for a Judicial Review. 

In February, the five Tory councils put forward five grounds for challenging the plans, but have only been given permission to proceed with two of them:

Failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements  

Whether the Mayor properly considered the previous “buffer zone” approach as a material consideration in relation to the scrappage scheme 

The other three rejected grounds were:

Unlawful failure to consider expected compliance rates in outer London

Failure to carry out any cost benefit analysis

Inadequate consultation and/or apparent predetermination arising from the conduct of the consultation. 

The ULEZ currently covers the capital as far as, but not including, the North and South Circular Roads. Under the mayor’ plans, it will extend to cover all London boroughs on 29 August 2023.

A Bromley spokesperson said: “The hearing of the claim is likely to be listed in the week commencing Monday 3 July or shortly thereafter.” 

Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said: “We welcome the fact that these concerns will now be heard by the High Court, with the outcome a matter for the court to determine. Our principled opposition to the expanded ULEZ remains undiminished. We will continue to stand up for residents and the many businesses who face an even more uncertain future. We are standing up for what is right, which includes clean air, with Bromley’s excellent record in this regard already plainly evident within the Mayor’s own research papers.   

“Our borough is already a healthy borough by virtually every measurement, with the truth about the longer term intentions of the enforcement cameras, that of road price charging for all, now slowly but surely being dragged out into the open for all to see.

“There is still time for the Mayor to pull back and take a more considered approach which takes outer London’s differing needs and circumstances into account and I call upon the Mayor publicly once again to do precisely that, not just for the good of due process, but most of all for the benefit of all those threatened by the horrendous daily cost of his proposed tax, particularly upon those least able to pay.” 

Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “We remain confident that the court will see that the Mayor failed to follow due process, that his proposed scrappage scheme is inadequate, the irreparable harm ULEZ expansion would have on outer London and its neighbours, and that it will rightfully quash these disastrous plans.” 

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “Our consultation response in July 2022 clearly highlighted that the Mayor’s decision failing to include Surrey residents in any scrappage scheme was unacceptable, and proposed a number of other recommendations to help mitigate both the financial and potential environmental impacts of the expansion. Our concerns have not been addressed by the Mayor.  

“We remain committed to delivering a greener future, but it must be done in a practical and sustainable way. We will now await the findings of the Judicial Review.” 

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan 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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