ULEZ expansion: judicial review into Sadiq Khan’s low-emission charge to proceed to trial

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

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

The mayor’s intended expansion of the scheme will bring the whole of Greater London into the zone, with the extension penned in for 29 August this year. Beyond that date, most drivers of non-compliant vehicles will be liable to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

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”.

However, this has been questioned by groups including the City Hall Conservatives as well as several boroughs, some of whom recently voiced their anger at ULEZ signs and cameras being installed despite the pending decision on whether a judicial review would proceed.

NationalWorld’s sister site LondonWorld reports that the request for a review, submitted in the High Court by 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.

They were:

  • Failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements,
  • Unlawful failure to consider expected compliance rates in outer London,
  • The proposed scrappage scheme was not consulted upon,
  • Failure to carry out any cost benefit analysis,
  • And inadequate consultation and/or apparent predetermination arising from the conduct of the consultation.
The planned expansion will take in virtually the whole of Greater London The planned expansion will take in virtually the whole of Greater London
The planned expansion will take in virtually the whole of Greater London

Sir Ross Cranston, a judge at the High Court, has now ruled that the bid for a judicial review can go ahead, saying parts of the local authorities’ challenge were “arguable”. In a written decision issued on Wednesday, he said that the case could proceed on two grounds - the legal basis for the scheme and the scrappage scheme. A one day hearing will now be held in early July.

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.

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

Ian Edwards, leader of Hillingdon Council, said he was confident that the court would “rightfully quash these disastrous plans”, while Baroness O’Neill of Bexley, leader of Bexley Council, said she hoped the decision “moves us a step closer to stopping the Mayor’s money-making scheme”. She added that the Ulez expansion proposal was “never about air quality and we believe it would have disastrous consequences for many of our residents and businesses, as well as others who regularly travel into the borough.”

A spokesperson for the mayor 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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