Councils win right to challenge ULEZ expansion

A High Court hearing expected in July could see the proposed expansion blocked

(Credit: TfL)

Four London boroughs have won a chance to stop the controversial expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges drivers of more polluting vehicles £12.50 a day and is set to expand to cover almost all of London in August this year.

However, four London councils – Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon and Harrow – have teamed up with Surrey County Council to fight the expansion, applying to the High Court for a judicial review.

On 12th April, the High Court granted permission for the review, meaning the Mayor of London’s office will be forced into a legal battle to defend the expansion. The hearing is reportedly expected in early July or “shortly thereafter”.

Responding to the news, Bromley Council leader Colin Smith said: “We have continued to outline our concerns about the legality of the decision being made, which is why we have taken legal action. 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.

“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.”

Three of the five grounds for a judicial review submitted by the five councils were rejected by the court, meaning the hearing will concern whether the expansion complies with “relevant statutory requirements” and whether Mayor of London Sadiq Khan “properly considered the previous ‘buffer zone’ approach as a material consideration in relation to the scrappage scheme”.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London 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.”

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson added: “The Mayor has been clear that, with around 4,000 Londoners a year dying prematurely from toxic air, his decision to expand the ULEZ should be implemented without delay.

“We are aware that the court has refused permission for the claim to proceed on three of the five grounds and we will continue to defend the Mayor’s decision.”