Sadiq Khan blasts Ulez critics and insists he will be ‘on the right side of history’ – with his much-hated scheme to expand across ALL of London from Tuesday
- The London Mayor has blasted his critics ahead of the ULEZ expansion rollout
- The expansion has proven so unpopular that some have damaged cameras
Sadiq Khan has blasted critics of his controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion and insisted he will be ‘on the right side of history’ ahead of the rollout next week.
The London Mayor’s much-maligned expansion of the ultra low emission zone goes live on Tuesday, despite opposition from campaigners who say the £12.50-a-day charge is a tax on the poor and working class who cannot afford to buy newer, greener vehicles.
The expansion covers every borough in the Greater London Authority area – and has proven so unpopular that some have taken matters into their own hands, covering camera lenses with stickers and cutting cables ahead of the launch.
Elsewhere, so-called ‘blade runners’ who have vandalised and even stolen Ulez cameras have prompted Transport for London (TfL) to take extra steps in order to protect the devices from harm, with the latest round of cameras on the M4 positioned high up and surrounded by armoured boxes.
Despite Mr Khan, 52, defeating a High Court challenge from the outer London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, along with Surrey County Council, against the expansion, the scheme remains controversial.
Sadiq Khan has blasted critics of his controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion and insisted he will be ‘on the right side of history’ ahead of the rollout next week
The London Mayor’s much-maligned expansion of the ultra low emission zone goes live on Tuesday , despite opposition from campaigners
Opponents of the scheme gathered in Bromley- which is not currently part of the Ulez, but will be from next week – to voice their dissent
One of the new Ulez cameras on the edge of the M4 close to Heathrow. Transport for London appears to have placed it high off the ground and surrounded its cabling with armour to minimise the risk of the camera being vandalised
Speaking to The Times, Mr Khan shared his determination to make sure voters see that ULEZ is the ‘right policy’, and pointed out that the Tories have introduced clean-air zones in 16 cities in across the UK, including Birmingham and Bristol.
The charges in these cities come into effect when driving in the city centre, and not in the suburban areas.
Mr Khan added that ULEZ was initially introduced by former London Mayor and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2008.
‘I’m doing what the government wants me to do’, he said. ‘So this mock anger from the government is pure hypocrisy.
‘The Tories are trying to weaponise the issue of tackling air pollution, tackling the climate emergency, because they think there is some short-term advantage to doing so. But people aren’t stupid. They’ll see both the reasonable need to take action and that this government was previously in favour of this policy.’
He also claims his £160 million scrappage scheme has not been financially supported by the government.
Anti-Ulez campaigners took to the streets of Tooting, South London, for a last-ditch attempt at dissenting against the expansion of the zone from Tuesday
Drivers on the M4 are being warned to prepare for the arrival of the London-wide Ulez from Tuesday. The motorway’s last stretch into the capital falls under the £12.50-per-day scheme – with Junction 3 giving drivers of non-compliant cars a chance to U-turn before being charged
A protester holds a sign saying ‘No To ULEZ’ at Downing Street earlier this month
A close-up of one of the new Ulez cameras on the M4 at Heathrow. As well as being positioned out of reach the camera cables are ensconced in an armoured box
Mr Khan has said that he would have abandoned the scheme if it was failing to reduce pollution levels
READ MORE: Ulez cameras revealed: Interactive map shows how to dodge Sadiq Khan’s enforcement cameras and avoid £12.50-a-day charge
The Ulez.co.uk website has an interactive map showing every known location of a Ulez camera
Since the start of this month, every Londoner with a non-ULEZ compliant car has been made eligible for a £2,000 grant. Small businesses and traders could bag up to £21,000 to scrap three vans, and charities are eligible for £27,000 to scrap three minibuses.
Mr Khan added that he would have abandoned the scheme if it was failing to reduce pollution levels.
‘If it was the case that the Ulez wasn’t working, I would have abandoned it, because I’m pragmatic’, he said. ‘But the Ulez has been shown to reduce toxicity by almost 50 per cent in central London.’
He has also ruled out changing the scheme further after it stops raising revenue in 2026.
‘I love driving whenever I get the chance to drive’, he said. ‘But I’m saying actually you can be somebody who is a driver but also not cause issues for yourself and others.
‘I’m not sure people realise when you drive a non-compliant car, the person that receives the most toxicity is you.’
It comes after anti-ULEZ campaigners took to the streets this week in a last minute protest of the planned expansion.
On Saturday, opponents of the scheme gathered in Tooting – which is not currently part of the Ulez, but will be from next week – to voice their dissent, waving signs calling for the Mayor of London to resign.
On the same day, the GMB union called on Mr Khan to scrap Ulez expansion.
GMB London regional organiser Trevlyn McLeod told LBC: ‘Listen to the people, Mr Khan, listen to the people who are going to suffer, listen to the people who can’t afford now to go to work or never mind put food on the table.
‘We all want clean air for our children and generations, but you’ve gone in too far, too deep and it’s going to cost people’s lives and livelihoods.
A map of the Ulez expansion across the entire Greater London Authority area. Junction 3 of the M4 (left side of image) is the last chance for drivers of non-compliant vehicles to turn back
An anti-Ulez protest in Orpington earlier this month. Mr Khan has previously claimed that opposition to the scheme has been ‘weaponised’ by conspiracy theorists
PM Rishi Sunak (left) with newly elected Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Steve Tuckwell. The Tories have credited anti-Ulez sentiment with their victory in the by-election last month
READ MORE: ULEZ is just the start of Labour’s carless society as Sadiq Khan’s officials draw up plans for NEW and even more far-reaching tax that could charge drivers by mile
Drivers could be hit with a new pay-per-mile road tax after London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for an army of experts to build a ‘sophisticated’ new pricing system
‘People are angry, people are absolutely angry, and so are our members who can’t afford £12.50 a day or to buy a new car. Many workers will absolutely be affected.’
The expanded Ulez covers the M4 as it winds its way into London – and eastbound Junction 3 is the last chance for drivers of non-compliant vehicles to turn around before they are forced to pay the £12.50 charge.
Failing to pay the fee will land drivers with a £180 fine – halved to £90 if it is paid within 14 days.
Mr Khan’s office has insisted that the expanded Ulez will improve air quality for millions while impacting relatively few people.
The Tories have credited anti-Ulez sentiment for their victory in the by-election for Boris Johnson’s old seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip a month ago – a success they’ll be hoping to repeat next May.
In the meantime, TfL continues to insist that the Ulez plan is the right thing to do.
Christina Calderato, TfL’s director of strategy and policy, said on Thursday: ‘London has made significant progress over the last six years in improving air quality, but it sadly remains the case that thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of toxic pollution.
‘The London-wide Ulez is vital in tackling the triple challenges of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion, and will ensure millions more people can breathe cleaner air.
‘Any net revenues raised by the Ulez are reinvested into running and improving London’s transport network, such as expanding bus routes in outer London.’
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