Surrey County Council was one of a coalition of five councils to today (Thursday 16 February) launch a Judicial Review to challenge Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London’s decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to outer London boroughs.
The London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon and Surrey County Council have brought legal action following TfL’s announcement in November 2022 that it would push on with proposals to expand the scheme in August 2023 despite strong opposition from across outer London and beyond including concerns over how it is being delivered.
The coalition will challenge the expansion in the High Court on five grounds:
The five grounds and a summary of each:
1.Failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements
Schedule 23 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 governs the making of “charging schemes.” The Mayor decided to extend ULEZ by varying the existing scheme (which applies to inner London). Although Schedule 23 does permit a charging scheme to be varied, the proposed changes are so wide ranging that they amount to a whole new charging scheme which cannot be introduced by way of a variation. In addition, Schedule 23 contains procedural safeguards in the making of a charging scheme which have not been followed by the Mayor.
2. Unlawful failure to consider expected compliance rates in outer London
The Mayor’s failure to provide any meaningful information as to how he expects an instant 91 per cent compliance rate was unfair, and specifically, the Mayor did not respond to Hillingdon’s consultation response that the compliance assumptions “were not fit for purpose.” In addition, the consultation documents were unclear and confusing and prevented consultees from making proper responses.
3. The proposed scrappage scheme was not consulted upon
In making his decision to extend ULEZ the Mayor committed to a scrappage scheme costing £110 million. Details of the scrappage scheme only become available following his decision and were not subject to prior consultation. In particular, the Mayor’s decision to only offer the scrappage scheme to those residing in London was not consulted upon, although this was highlighted in the consultation response from Surrey County Council. Given the importance of the scrappage scheme to the Mayor’s decision, a consultation on the scrappage scheme should have taken place.
4. Failure to carry out any cost benefit analysis
Treasury Guidance recommends a cost benefit analysis where a policy decision requires the use of “significant new” public money. No such analysis was undertaken by the Mayor and no explanation given as to why one was inappropriate. Given that the implementation cost is estimated at £160 million and that the Mayor has introduced a separate £110 million scrappage scheme, and that the expansion is expected to generate a net operating surplus of £200 million in the first full year of operation, his decision clearly involves “significant new” public money.
5. Inadequate consultation and/or apparent predetermination arising from the conduct of the consultation
The consultation exercise contained 15 questions with drop-down answers, only one of which sought to address the question of whether the expansion should go ahead. In addition, following disclosure by the Greater London Authority (GLA) of background consultation information to the GLA Conservatives, it appears that a number of “organised responses” were excluded by TfL particularly those which opposed the expansion. This took place during the consultation and the way in which this happened suggests that the Mayor had predetermination.
Cllr Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “We are committed to delivering a greener future, but it must be done in a practical and sustainable way. We are dismayed at the lack of discussion or consideration given to these proposals by the Mayor of London. The impact on many Surrey residents and businesses will be significant and we will not stand by and watch that happen with no mitigations offered from the Mayor.
“To date, our requests for due consideration to be given to these mitigations have not been acknowledged, let alone acted upon. It’s disappointing that we, along with other local authorities, have to resort to legal proceedings to try and bring the Mayor of London to the table, but we have no choice but to do so.”
Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “Our position has remained unchanged from when TfL’s plans were first mooted – ULEZ is the wrong solution in outer London as it will have negligible or nil impact on air quality but will cause significant social and economic harm to our residents. We shared this view in our response to the TfL consultation last summer and we’ve said it since when the plans were confirmed in November. Now, we’ll say it in the courts.
“We believe Sadiq Khan’s decision to impose this scheme on outer London boroughs is unlawful – his spending nearly £260 million of public money without any cost benefit analysis. Hillingdon, and the other coalition local authorities wouldn’t dream of making decisions in this fashion.
“The predominant effect of ULEZ expansion will be to financially cripple already struggling households, further isolate the elderly and harm our local economy with negligible or no improvement to air quality. Investment in improved transport links – on a par with those in areas within the existing ULEZ – is the better way to reduce car use in Hillingdon.”
Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, said: “We have been clear from the start that we believe air quality is important but that ULEZ is the wrong solution. By wanting to expand ULEZ to outer London boroughs it appears that the Mayor’s message is you can pollute as long as you can afford the £12.50.
“We believe he should give the monies that he has allocated to ULEZ to the boroughs who actually understand outer London and the transport connectivity problems our residents face to come up with innovative solutions that will deliver better, more practical results.
“We are also very concerned about the mental wellbeing of our residents who we know are already anxious about the installation of ULEZ and the very real prospect that they won’t be able to use their cars to get to work, visit relatives and friends, shop or attend health appointments.
“We are standing up for our residents who have given us a clear message of what they think of his plan.”
Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said: “We have been sounding the alarm about Mayor Khan’s attempted tax raid on the outer ‘London’ suburbs for many months now. The fundamental truth as to his true intention is now increasingly plain for all to see.
“In Bromley, this socially regressive tax directly threatens jobs, the viability and availability of small businesses, and causing significant damage to vital care networks, as well as creating a completely avoidable spike in the cost of living locally, at a time when some households are already struggling to make ends meet.
“To attempt to do all of this under cover of a false health scare over air quality, when the Mayor’s own research confirms that Bromley has the second cleanest air in London, also, that extending ULEZ to the boundaries of the M25 will make no discernible difference to air quality locally, is frankly unforgivable.
“The upset, pain and anxiety this has caused locally is immense, which is why, even at this late stage, I once again call on the Mayor to withdraw this spiteful proposal.”
Before we get onto the response from Elmbridge Borough Council to the ULEZ Expansion its worth going into a bit more detail as to what this is and how it could impact residents of Elmbridge.
Some time ago the Mayor of London announced the expansion of the ULEZ zone to cover all London boroughs from the 29th August 2023.
"To help clear London's air and improve public health, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is expanding across all London boroughs from 29 August 2023.
If you drive anywhere within the ULEZ, including the expanded area from 29 August 2023, and your vehicle does not meet the emissions standards, you could face a daily charge of £12.50.
This includes residents of the ULEZ. However, you don't need to pay the ULEZ charge if you are parked inside the zone and don't drive."
"Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses such as cancer, asthma and lung disease, and there is a higher risk of dementia in older people.
Air pollution even contributes to the premature death of thousands of Londoners every year. It's not just a central London problem.
In fact, the greatest number of deaths related to air pollution occur in outer London areas. That's why the ULEZ is expanding across all London boroughs (see map below)."
It's said that more than four out of five vehicles already meet the emissions standards. To see if your vehicle meets the ULEZ emission standards, you can check if your vehicle meets the required standards here:
Earlier this week Elmbridge Borough Council published a further statement against this expansion and the impact it will have on Elmbridge Residents.
Elmbridge Borough Council continues to state its opposition to the expansion of the ULEZ without meaningful engagement with both ourselves and Surrey County Council (as our public transport provider).
But as a Council committed to a thriving and sustainable community, we cannot support the ULEZ expansion in its current form.
In December 2022, we continued to address our opposition to the Mayor of London and have recently received a response from Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy.
Ms Rodrigues states that Transport for London (TFL) are open to discussing extending zone 6:
“The council resolution raised the issue of extending zone 6 into parts of your district. TfL are constantly reviewing and developing transport provision and are open to discussions with Surrey County Council and Elmbridge borough Council in order to discuss potential holistic transport strategies.”
On the matter of access to NHS services, exemptions and discounts, Ms Rodrigues writes:
“I am happy to be able to inform you that not only have the existing grace periods been retained they have been extended until October 2027. The Mayor also extended the scheme to create two new grace periods for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and for recipients of the standard rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and certain other specific state benefits, these will also run until 2027. It is not necessary to be a resident of (Greater London) to benefit from these schemes.
“I can confirm that we have retained the arrangements to ensure that NHS patients with an impaired immune system who need to go to essential medical appointments can be reimbursed if they have had to pay the ULEZ charge during their journey. The reimbursement applies to the person who paid the ULEZ charge for the vehicle who transported the patient to the hospital, who may be a friend, relative or carer rather than the patient themselves. The reimbursement is administered by the NHS trusts directly. Again, it is not necessary to be a resident of the GLA area to benefit from this scheme.”
We continue to lobby for improvements to public transport in Elmbridge. The letter from Ms Rodrigues states:
“We would welcome any information on improvements that would help your residents either as consultations are brought forward or through TfL's regular contacts with your district.”
Ms Rodrigues also confirms in her letter that the scrappage scheme will not be extended to Elmbridge.
While we thank the Deputy Mayor for her response, it does not go far enough to meet the concerns of our residents. The right thing for the Mayor of London to do is to pause while we meet to discuss how those concerns might better be met. We are pleased that TfL and Surrey County Council have agreed to meet with our officers this month.
Our resolve has not weakened in ensuring our residents and businesses are treated fairly as part of the ULEZ extensions plans. We will keep you updated at every step of the way.
Cllr Chris Sadler, Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council
Cllr Bruce McDonald, Deputy Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council
We estimate that around 2000 Elmbridge residents will read this post in the next 2 days.
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Previous commentary from Elmbridge Borough Council can be found below:
Letter from the Chief Executive of Elmbridge Borough Council to the Mayor of London (22 December 2022)
Motion regarding the expansion of the ULEZ (7 December 2022)
At a meeting of Elmbridge Borough Council on Wednesday 7 December, Councillors reinforced their commitment to improving air quality in the borough while also agreeing to act on behalf of the Elmbridge community, to work to improve the implementation of the extension of Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) being introduced in August 2023 by the Mayor of London.
In June this year we re-established our five priorities in tackling air pollution in Elmbridge , as part of Elmbridge’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP):
It is this commitment to lobbying and partnership working that is need now. As currently presented, the ULEZ extension does not address our concerns nor those of Elmbridge residents and businesses.
We know the communities of Elmbridge are linked with those of Greater London. We know our residents travel to hospitals, businesses and other services in Greater London and are concerned by the £12.50 ULEZ daily charge, and potential large fines for non-compliant vehicles. We know this will disproportionately impact small Elmbridge businesses and our residents on lower incomes, already hit hardest by the rising cost-of-living.
Our community is often more reliant on their cars and doesn’t have access to the Tube or bus networks of Greater London as an alternative travel option. We urge Transport for London and the Mayor of London to work with us and with Surrey County Council to improve local public transport and cycle ways and other sustainable travel initiatives such as the expansion of Zone 6 beyond Hampton Court and Thames Ditton to include stations such as Esher, Walton-on-Thames, Hersham, Hinchley Wood, Cobham, Oxshott, Claygate, Weybridge and others.
Afterall in the same way that air doesn’t acknowledge administrative boundaries, neither do people’s lives.
Cllr Chris Sadler, Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council
Cllr Bruce McDonald, Deputy Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council
Cllr Chris Sadler, Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council:
"On Thursday 24 November, TFL attended Elmbridge’s Overview and Scrutiny meeting to respond to our concerns about the extension of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across all London boroughs, as we believe it will adversely impact Elmbridge residents and that TFL have not factored this into their thinking.
"Today, Friday 25 November, they have announced that indeed the ULEZ will be extended from 29 August 2023. We are disappointed that our concerns and those of the Elmbridge residents and businesses have not been considered and we will continue to lobby TFL to extend the scrappage scheme beyond London and to work with us and Surrey County Council to improve public transport."
At our upcoming Overview and Scrutiny meeting on 24 November, we welcome the opportunity to speak with TFL regarding the potential ULEZ expansion and hear from them on issues such as the implementation date (which we believe is too soon) and the data on air quality behind the proposals, both of which and more were raised through Elmbridge Borough Council’s initial assessment of the proposals.
Elmbridge Borough Council is supportive of improving air quality in Elmbridge and of increased trade in our high streets and parades, both of which we see as potential benefits to the possible extension of the ULEZ (as being proposed by the Mayor of London). However, there are too many uncertainties with the current proposal.
While traffic is the leading contributor of emissions in Elmbridge, the current proposal does not seem to encourage the use of cycling, walking or public transport. Nor does it offer improvements to public transport services in Elmbridge or other boroughs neighbouring London.
The extension of the ULEZ will generate revenue for Transport For London (TFL) and we would like assurances that such revenue will be invested to support necessary and affordable public transport links between Elmbridge and the proposed ULEZ area.
Overall, the report being presented to the Individual Cabinet Member Decision Making Meeting (ICMDM) on 11 July, proposes that the implementation date is too soon. Authorities on the border of the proposed expansion, of which Elmbridge is one, have not had enough time to consider the impacts of the scheme, nor have TfL provided any modelling on air quality or traffic flow analysis. Such analysis will take time and we would hope for a delay in implementing the scheme to allow for this essential information.
The report being presented suggests the following actions by Elmbridge Borough Council:
The Leader of Elmbridge Borough Council, Councillor Chris Sadler, to personally write to the Mayor London expressing our viewpoints on the proposed ULEZ London-wide expansion. (Update 1 August - letter from Cllr Sadler to the Mayor of London)