Ulez scrappage scheme vehicles to be sent to Ukraine

Vehicles that would otherwise have been scrapped will instead be sent to help with the war effort in Ukraine, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Ulez and (inset) Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ulez and (inset) Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy

A number of vehicles handed over under London’s Ulez scrappage scheme will soon be sent to Ukraine, Sadiq Khan has announced.

Among the vehicles to go to the warzone will be 50 decommissioned ambulances from the London Ambulance Service, with ten planned to be sent in the next few weeks, and a further 40 by the end of the summer.

It comes after the mayor and former defence secretary Ben Wallace had jointly written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper shortly before Christmas, calling on him to alter the regulations for the issuing of a certificate of destruction under the scrappage scheme.

They suggested this was necessary in order to enable vehicles to be sent to Ukraine via a registered charity or national scheme.

But in a letter to Khan at the end of January, Harper said that the government does “not consider there to be any legal barrier to allowing vehicles to be donated to Ukraine”.

With the mayor having now asked Transport for London (TfL) to amend the scrappage scheme to allow for the change, it is hoped the first vehicles will be donated within a matter of weeks.

Under the scrappage scheme, Londoners are able to receive money in exchange for submitting their non-Ulez compliant vehicle for destruction, or in a few cases to be retrofitted. Cars can be scrapped for a £2,000 sum and motorbikes for £1,000, with larger grants on offer for vans and minibuses.

Under a new set of arrangements, some vehicles submitted to be scrapped will instead be permanently transferred to the Ukrainian authorities. Ukraine’s infrastructure has been significantly damaged in the conflict and it is hoped that donating a range of different vehicles will provide the country with humanitarian and logistical assistance.

The owners of those vehicles will still receive the same amount of grant funding as if the vehicles had been scrapped, City Hall said.

Khan said: “Two years on from Russia’s devastating illegal invasion of Ukraine, I continue to do all I can to help those affected, including supporting Ukrainians seeking help in London and signposting where Londoners can make donations.

“Alongside the human toll of the conflict, there has been a significant impact on Ukraine’s infrastructure, and these plans to donate non-compliant vehicles will help meet medical and humanitarian needs while also helping to remove old, polluting vehicles from London’s roads.

“The scrappage scheme is open to all Londoners with an eligible non-Ulez compliant vehicle and is playing a key part in my mission to clean up our city’s toxic air.”

TfL has confirmed that the registered charity British-Ukrainian Aid (BUA) has been chosen as a trusted intermediary to roll out the new system.

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Under the plans, BUA will facilitate the donation of suitable vehicles to Ukraine, provide the relevant documentation for people to receive their scrappage grant, transfer the vehicles to Ukraine and report on the number of vehicles donated in this way.

The mayor had been concerned about the possibility of vehicles donated to Ukraine finding their way back to London, but the new system will mean that the vehicles will be permanently removed from the UK following their donation to Ukraine, with BUA providing evidence of this to TfL.

The development was welcomed by Eduard Fesko, chargé d’affaires of Ukraine in the UK, who said: “The Ulez programme is gradually expanding, providing a healthier and happier environment for London residents and visitors. Ukraine is also aiming for similar reforms, whether in Kyiv or other cities, where comprehensive reconstruction will be required after the end of the barbaric Russian aggression.

“There is a unique opportunity to give a second life to vehicles by donating them to Ukraine, which can help save human lives. This initiative can benefit Ukraine and London greatly, and the Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom is proud to support this initiative and encourages all charity organisations and volunteer groups to join this effort.”

Khan initially set aside £110million in scrappage funds but increased this to £160m ahead of the Ulez expansion to the Greater London boundary last August. In January he allocated a further £50m from his 2024/25 City Hall budget, taking the total to £210m.

According to TfL, a total of £158.1m of the fund had been committed as of the end of last month, leaving a little over £50m still to be claimed.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “As a government we have been steadfast in our support for Ukrainians as they continue to face Putin’s aggression.

“I expressed my disappointment last year to the mayor of London that vehicles which otherwise would’ve been scrapped, could not be sent to Ukraine to help in the war effort.

“I am pleased the mayor has seen sense – and Londoners can now help our friends in Ukraine by sending their scrapped cars.”

Tory London Assembly member Andrew Boff said he was ”delighted Sadiq Khan has finally agreed to support Londoners to send non-Ulez compliant vehicles to Ukraine instead of the scrap heap”.

He added: “As we approach the two-year anniversary of Russia’s unlawful full-scale invasion of Ukraine this weekend, we must continue to do everything we can to support Ukraine’s war effort.

“Time is of the essence. After months of dither, delay and excuses, the mayor must ensure this scheme is up and running as quickly as possible so that much-needed vehicles can finally be sent to Ukraine.”

Khan insisted however that it would not have been possible before now to set up such a scheme without “falling foul of government rules” in relation to having total confidence that the cars would not find their way back to London. He added that the government “deserves credit” for giving City Hall “the green light” to go ahead with the scheme.

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