A judicial review of Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is about to be conducted at the High Court.
Five Conservative-led councils – Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey – have launched legal action over the scheme, which is expected to cover all of London from the end of August.
They say it will have a major financial impact on motorists.
London’s Labor Mayor said the scheme was needed to tackle air pollution.
“The independent review confirms that ULEZ is operational and that expansion will result in 5 million more Londoners breathing cleaner air,” he told Reuters news agency.
“You’re not going to please everyone 100% of the time,” he added. “No politician in history has done that.”
The ULEZ scheme requires non-compliant or more polluting drivers to pay a daily fee of £12.50 on days they drive within inner London. Motorists can be fined £160 if they don’t pay.
Most cars in London are ULEZ compliant.
The area currently covers all areas of the city between the North and South bypasses, but the mayor of London has previously announced that it will be expanded to cover the entire capital from 29 August. .
Non-compliant vans, buses, coaches and heavy trucks will be charged £100 under a separate low-emissions zone scheme, which already covers most of London.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Council’s Conservatives, said the administration believes its expansion will have “a devastating impact on the poorest motorists” in Harrow”.
“Those who do low-paid work during anti-social hours, they don’t have alternative public transport. They are required to pay £12.50 a day to get to work and if they work more than half of it night, they will be asked to pay £25 because they also have to pay for the next day,” he said.
He added that the money spent on the thousands of cameras being installed across London could be better used to expand the scrap scheme.
On what grounds is the judicial review based?
Initially, five councils outside London argued that there were five grounds for judicial review but in April the High Court ruled there was sufficient evidence on three of them.
It’s expansion is too big and it should be considered a new scheme; The consultation was flawed, according to the council, it did not reveal important information.
The third basis is that it did not consider the possibility of including people living outside London and bordering the area in the new £110m scrap scheme. They are not eligible to receive funds from the fund.
Eligible people can receive up to £2,000 for the removal of a non-compliant car or up to £1,000 for the removal of a motorcycle. For wheelchair accessible vehicles, there is an allowance of up to £5,000.
Hirra Khan Adeogun, head of Car Free Cities at Possible, a climate charity, told the Today program that the legal challenge is a distraction to the main ongoing problem, pollution. atmosphere and climate change.
“It’s a shame to see local governments wasting taxpayers’ time and money trying to prolong the negative effects of air pollution and the climate crisis,” she said.
“It is absolutely essential that people in suburban London get cleaner air and be part of greener London, including poorer Londoners, who are most at risk from exposure to air.” toxic gas.”
The controversial plan has sparked a fierce debate across the city, pitting mayors and health campaigners against those who say they can’t take another economic hit in the interim. point where costs have skyrocketed.
Chris Fordham, who drives a non-compliant 2012 diesel truck, said the planned expansion meant he was thinking of stopping work, adding: “They’re attacking the people again. working-class people.”
But Jemima Hartshorn, founder of the advocacy group Mothers for the Lungs and mother of a daughter with asthma, says the poorest often suffer from living next to busy roads.
“It’s extremely important that even in a cost-of-living crisis, we don’t throw air pollution on the streets and let many children grow up unhealthy,” she said.
The hearing, before Mr Justice Swift, will begin at 10:00 BST on Tuesday. His verdict is expected at a later date.
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