The High Court has ruled in favour of the London Mayor’s plan to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the capital’s outer boroughs, including the London Borough of Harrow.
The ruling, announced this morning, effectively upholds the scheduled implementation of the ULEZ expansion on 29 August. The ULEZ, which has already been successfully in operation in central and inner London, imposes a daily charge of £12.50 on the drivers of the most polluting vehicles.
Initially introduced as a measure to address air pollution in central London, the ULEZ set stringent emissions standards for vehicles entering the zone. The results from its implementation in the central areas prompted Mayor Sadiq Khan to propose its extension to the outer boroughs as well.
Conservative-run councils, including Harrow, had initially opposed this expansion and took legal action against the Mayor’s plan in February. They expressed concerns about the potential impact on residents, businesses, and overall mobility within the affected areas.
Cllr Paul Osborn, Leader of the London Borough of Harrow, said: “This is not the outcome we were hoping for and is hugely disappointing. It is a sad day for our residents and businesses who are worried about the impact the expansion will have on them when it comes into force in August.
“I firmly believe that ULEZ expansion is the wrong scheme for outer London. We had an arguable case, and the fact that we got this far in our challenge against this unpopular scheme shows that we were right to proceed.
“I am proud to have stood up for our residents and businesses. So many have spoken to me about how this scheme will impact them. I’d like to thank the thousands of people who have supported us.
“Unfortunately, the Mayor will push ahead with his plans. I will continue to speak up for our residents on the expansion of the ULEZ and will press the government to give us the power to stop this expansion to our borough.
“I will also be lobbying for better schemes to further help improve air quality and public transport links in Harrow. I am already taking positive steps to improve air quality in our borough – this includes ensuring our fleet is as green as possible, and as of last night I approved plans to install 225 additional electric charging points to help our residents who want to switch to electric vehicles.
“I will always put our residents first on the issues that matter to them.”
Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “I am hugely disappointed for our residents and businesses and I call on the Mayor of London to further reflect on his plans.
“Even the Mayor’s own supporters are now saying that it is the wrong time to be expanding this scheme. Many thousands of low-income earners, vulnerable people ordinary workers and small businesses who are the beating heart of our borough will have to shoulder further costs which they cannot afford. It will cause even greater financial hardship and for some it will cause the loss of business or employment.
“We will continue our fight on behalf of our residents and business through Parliament and at next year’s Mayoral election.
“I am proud that we had the courage and conviction to stand up for our residents and businesses and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in or who has sent messages of support for our fight which, as I have said, will go on.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This landmark decision is good news as it means we can proceed with cleaning up the air in outer London on 29 August.
“The decision to expand the ULEZ was very difficult and not something I took lightly and I continue to do everything possible to address any concerns Londoners may have.
“The ULEZ has already reduced toxic nitrogen dioxide air pollution by nearly half in central London and a fifth in inner London. The coming expansion will see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air.
“I’ve been listening to Londoners throughout the ULEZ rollout, which is why from next week I am expanding the scrappage scheme to nearly a million families who receive child benefit and all small businesses with up to fifty employees. I will continue to look at new ideas to support Londoners.
“Nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already compliant so won’t pay a penny – yet will still see the benefits of cleaner air. Air pollution is an urgent public health crisis – our children are growing up with stunted lungs and it is linked to a host of serious conditions, from heart disease to cancer and dementia.
“This unambiguous decision today in the High Court allows us to press on with the difficult but vital task of cleaning up London’s air and tackling the climate crisis.”