Sadiq Khan‘s controversial expansion of ULEZ has been hit with another knockback, with the High Court challenge to the plans escalating even further.
A number of London councils have brought a legal challenge to the zone’s expansion.
Today, the High Court announced that it will allow two further grounds for challenge, in addition to the three grounds accepted previously.
The coalition of councils, made up of the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon and Harrow, along with Surrey County Council, are bringing a judicial review of Mr Khan’s decision to expand ULEZ to the whole of greater London.
The hearing, taking place in July, will effectively decide whether Mr Khan acted legally or illegally in giving the go-ahead for the scheme’s expansion. The £12.50 ULEZ charge applies to vehicles that do not meet up-to-date emissions standards and currently covers inner London.
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The two newly accepted grounds for challenge were previously refused in April.
On 12 April the High Court granted permission for the coalition to challenge the legality of Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London’s plans to expand the ULEZ to outer London from August 2023 on the following grounds:
- Failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements
- Whether the Mayor properly considered the previous “buffer zone” approach as a material consideration in relation to the scrappage scheme.
At today’s hearing, the High Court granted permission to challenge TfL on these further grounds:
- Unfair and unlawful consultation in relation to expected compliance rates in outer London
- Scrappage scheme – irrationality due to uncertainty and inadequate consultation.
Reacting to the development, Nick Rogers AM, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson, called for Sadiq Khan to “do the right thing” and “explain his actions to the court”.
He said: “The High Court is rightly scrutinising whether Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ decision was unlawful and I welcome the news that additional grounds have been accepted by the court.
“From the evidence that has been uncovered, it’s obvious that Sadiq Khan does not have the legal basis to proceed with his ULEZ tax plans, which take money from charities, small businesses and low-income Londoners who cannot afford a new car.
“Sadiq Khan should do the right thing, stop work on his ULEZ expansion, and explain his actions to the court.”
The Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ian Edwards, said: “Today’s result is another step forward for the coalition and outer-London.
“These grounds are key to understanding the harm the ULEZ expansion will have on our residents.
“The Mayor estimated that only one in 10 vehicles in outer London would be non-compliant but this is proving to be widely inaccurate.
“The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders data shows that one in six cars registered in outer London did not meet Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standards last year, and yesterday a new study by TfL found that half the vans registered in outer London are not compliant.
“As each day passes the harm that the expansion of ULEZ will cause is becoming clearer and the sheer number of vehicles that don’t meet ULEZ emissions standards in Greater London suggests there will be a massive financial impact on motorists and businesses as well as enormous social harm.
“We believe that we’ve assembled a valid and robust case to put before the court and have every confidence that the inappropriateness and harm of these expansion proposals will be given the scrutiny, exposure, and ultimately, the expulsion they deserve.”
Many drivers are worried about the expansion given it’s taking place in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
There are also concerns that the new charges could have a negative impact on local businesses, as fewer people will want to take car trips.
But Mr Khan has argued the policy will improve air quality in London and will benefit the environment.
The London Mayor’s office has been contacted for comment.