The High Court has ruled that the Mayor of London’s plans to charge drivers that do not meet emissions standards under his Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is lawful.
A case had been brought against Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand the ULEZ to the outer boroughs of London by Bromley, Bexley, Hillingdon and Harrow councils.
But today, the landmark ruling guarantees that those plans will go ahead as scheduled on August 29.
Mr Khan said: “This landmark decision is good news as it means we can proceed with cleaning up the air in outer London on August 29.
“The ULEZ has already reduced toxic nitrogen dioxide air pollution by nearly half in central London and a fifth in inner London. The coming expansion will see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air.
“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.”
The four London boroughs and Surrey County Council had been given permission to argue three grounds of challenge against the Mayor and TfL out of five grounds advanced in their original claim.
The other two grounds had previously been rejected outright by the High Court.
The court ruled in favour of the mayor on all three legal grounds heard in the case, saying “the councils’ challenge fails on all three grounds and is dismissed”.
The judge, Mr Justice Swift, found that the legal basis on which the Mayor made the decision to expand the ULEZ was sound, and in line with previous decisions on the ULEZ and the Congestion Charge, and that the ULEZ could legally apply to all roads within the expanded zone.
The judge also found that the consultation materials provided all the information people needed about the numbers affected to make informed responses to the proposals.
Finally, the judge found that there was no obligation on the Mayor to mitigate the impacts of the scheme with a vehicle scrappage scheme or to compensate for the impacts of the ULEZ expansion, and his decision nevertheless to provide £110 million for scrappage support for people, businesses and charities within the London boundary was sound.
It is estimated that more than £1million of the councils’ public money will have been spent on this court case.
The mayor has been publicly critical of the five councils who brought this challenge, choosing to waste public money fighting a clear air policy.
Councillor Baroness O’Neill, leader of Bexley council, said: “I’m extremely disappointed at the outcome of the judicial review and the impact it will have on our residents and businesses. They have told us time and time again how worried they were about ULEZ which was why we took this action on their behalf.
“The fact that the Mayor of London has got his way and that his ULEZ expansion plan is to go ahead is devasting for the whole of outer London. This is especially true for Bexley because of our lack of transport links.”
Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley council, said: “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.”
Pictured top: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Picture: PA)
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