I have been campaigning against ULEZ expansion which will add significant costs for many residents and businesses, while achieving negligible impact on air quality. The Mayor's plans are simply a tax grab. proposed without full consultation or consideration of other, more effective means of improving air quality. While ULEZ expansion has now been rolled out (since 29 August 2023), I will continue to work with Surrey County Council and Parliamentary colleagues to mitigate the impact on residents and, ultimately, to scrap the ULEZ expansion.
In May 2022 London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to expand the ULEZ zone to outer London boroughs. ULEZ expansion would add further costs for residents and businesses when budgets are already under pressure, disproportionately impact those on lower incomes, including key workers required to commute to London, and all with no evidence that it will deliver improved air quality in outer London boroughs, and a risk of worsening the situation on Surrey roads.
Residents across Runnymede and Weybridge should not have to pay this London tax to prop up Sadiq Khan's failing administration.
On 12 April 2023 the High Court granted permission for a Judicial Review into Sadiq Kahn's ULEZ expansion plans. The decisions comes following challenge from 5 Conservative run Councils, including Surrey County Council.
While I respect the decision of the Court, the decision that ULEZ expansion can proceed is hugely disappointing. The result in Uxbridge was a clear demonstration of the harm & discontent this reckless plan is causing. The Labour Party need to abandon this punitive London tax.
ULEZ expansion came into force on 29 August 2023. All but one surrounding local authority refused TfL permission to place ULEZ signage on their roads in protest at the negative impact this would have on residents.
Alternative plans to improve air quality
As I highlighted in my speech in parliament, if Sadiq Khan really wanted to improve air quality, rather than introduce an unproven tax, he should be looking to push forward even faster car scrappage, and one that would help residents in Surrey. Or invest more in the conversion of TfL’s bus fleet to electricity and hydrogen vehicles. He is not even listening to industry who have highlighted the importance of the Zero Vehicle Emissions Mandate, and how supporting an ambitious mandate would drive even greater improvements in air quality.
I have held several meetings with businesses operating in the sector and I know they are keen to deliver on measures to reduce emissions and improve air quality. They are keen to support efforts to drive and expand policy in this area, yet no efforts appear to be made to engage with this proactive agenda.
Given the lack of evidence that an expanded ULEZ will have a significant impact on air quality, and a lack of engagement with other policy approaches that could deliver real improvements to air quality, it is difficult to see the Mayor’s plans as little more than a way for Sadiq Khan to fill the black hole he has made in Transport for London’s finances. Despite millions of taxpayers pounds in bailouts from central government, an 8.8% increase in his share of London council tax, and at a time residents are already suffering the impact of rising costs.