Coalition against ULEZ expansion stands strong ahead of Judicial Review

Tuesday 4 July 2023: The coalition of councils opposed to expansion of the ULEZ to outer London is optimistic of success on the first day of its legal challenge.

Representatives from the five councils - Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey - met on the steps of the High Court in central London on Tuesday 4 July, ahead of the opening day of the Judicial Review the coalition has brought against TfL and the Mayor of London, over planned expansion of the ULEZ to outer London.

The coalition's case, led by Hillingdon Council, will be argued on three grounds:

  • Failure to follow statutory procedure - Schedule 23 Greater London Authority Act 1999
  • Unlawful and unfair consultation regarding expected compliance rates in outer London
  • Unlawfulness regarding scrappage scheme, including failing to consider a buffer zone, irrationality and inadequate consultation.

Through the new proposals, anyone driving a non-compliant vehicle in the expanded zone after the scheduled start date on Tuesday 29 August, would stand to be charged £12.50 per day - whether the journey is a 30-mile commute, or a short trip for essential groceries.

Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "We believe we can win this. The fact the court has granted us permission to challenge on three grounds gives us confidence they also see the flaws in TfL and the Mayor's proposals. Quite simply, with the harm our local economies face from the effects of the proposed expansion, we can't afford not to fight them.

"So, we stand shoulder to shoulder with Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Surrey, whose small businesses, low-income earners, vulnerable people and ordinary workers like ours, all face being financially crippled by this ill-conceived scheme.

"We fully support measures to further improve air quality in our borough, but this is not the right scheme and not delivered in the right way for Hillingdon. We trust the court will see that and rule appropriately."

Cllr Baroness O'Neill of Bexley OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, said: "This is a great day for the coalition but disappointing that it has had to come to this. We have called on the Mayor of London time and time again to stop his plans for this expansion.

"We know that extending ULEZ will have a detrimental effect on so many of our residents and businesses while the phenomenal cost of bringing the scheme to outer London boroughs could be put to much better use elsewhere in the capital.

"The shameful message the Mayor continues to give is that you can go ahead and pollute if you can afford to pay the £12.50. Meanwhile those that can ill afford to replace their cars or vans because of ULEZ will be affected the most.

"I'm glad this day has arrived and I'm looking forward to the findings of the High Court."

Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said: "Our unswerving opposition to Mayor Khan's proposed expansion of ULEZ remains absolute. It would be thoroughly inexcusable of us to stand back and do nothing, and allow such a blatant, socially regressive tax grab to proceed unchallenged under the false flag of a health emergency, and neither shall we do so.

"It is obviously a matter of deep regret that this has been necessary to bring this matter to the High Court, but we will always seek to do what is right for our residents, many of whom will be deeply impacted. 

"The implications for small businesses, employment patterns, the damage it will cause to priceless social care networks and the impact it will have on mental health are simply horrendous, and it is our duty to fight for those whose voices have hitherto been completely ignored by City Hall.

"To be clear, Bromley's air is already the second cleanest in 'London', only microscopically behind Havering's and it is already cleaner than every single Borough within the Mayor's existing ULEZ scheme, so if it were really about health, why wouldn't he start by dealing with the poor air quality in his tube network.

"No. Londoners should be in no doubt that this is an attempted precursor to Road Price Charging for all. Green cars, hybrid cars, petrol and diesel cars, the lot, and it simply isn't right that due democratic process is being bypassed in the manner that it is. 

"There is still time, even now, for the Mayor to think again and, once again, I call on him to do so."

Cllr Paul Osborn, Leader of the London Borough of Harrow, said: "This is another milestone in our challenge against the expansion of the ULEZ scheme. It didn't have to come to this, but the Mayor and his team gave our councils no other option but to take it to the High Court.

"So now he will be asked to answer some difficult questions about his own scheme - an unpopular scheme which will have a significant impact on our residents and businesses - for a negligible impact on air quality.

"I look forward to hearing the outcome of the hearing very soon and hopeful it will be a positive outcome for our councils and Harrow residents."

Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Transport, Infrastructure and Growth at Surrey County Council, said: "I'm pleased that our hearing begins today, as we continue to highlight the significant financial and social impacts expansion of the ULEZ scheme would have on many of our residents and businesses.

"However, it is very disappointing that it has had to come to this. Our concerns have never been addressed by the Mayor, forcing these legal proceedings in order to have the voice of our residents heard.

"We remain committed to delivering a greener future, but it must be done in a practical and sustainable way. We will now await the findings of the High Court."

The hearing is scheduled to last for two days, with a ruling from the judge expected to follow at an unconfirmed date but expected ahead of the courts break for summer on 28 July.

Page last updated: 15 Feb 2024