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High Court allows ULEZ expansion to go ahead

The High Court has today ruled that the process carried out on the proposal to expand the ULEZ, including the public consultation, was thorough and the decision was completely legally sound.

The Mayor of London welcomed the judgment, which allows him to press on with the expansion and will bring approximately five million more Londoners into the zone – on top of the four million Londoners already benefitting from cleaner air who live in the existing zone.

The four London boroughs (Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon) and Surrey County Council had been given permission to argue three grounds of challenge against the Mayor and TfL out of five grounds advanced in their original claim. The other two grounds had previously been rejected outright by the High Court.

The Court ruled in favour of the Mayor on all three legal grounds heard in the case saying ‘The councils’ challenge fails on all three grounds and is dismissed’. The judge (Mr Justice Swift) found that the legal basis on which the Mayor made the decision to expand the ULEZ was sound, and in line with previous decisions on the ULEZ and the Congestion Charge, and that the ULEZ could legally apply to all roads within the expanded zone.

The judge also found that the consultation materials provided all the information people needed about the numbers affected to make informed responses to the proposals. Finally, the judge found that there was no obligation on the Mayor to mitigate the impacts of the scheme with a vehicle scrappage scheme or to compensate for the impacts of the ULEZ expansion, and his decision nevertheless to provide £110 million for scrappage support for people, businesses and charities within the London boundary was sound, and properly explained in both the consultation materials and the material that informed the Mayor’s own decision.

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.’

In response, 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.’

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