A judicial review into the expansion of the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) across Greater London has been granted after a court ruling, it has emerged.
London mayor Sadiq Khan opted to push ahead with plans to roll out the zone across all of outer London, from August 29, last year in the face of fierce opposition to the scheme.
It will mean all drivers of vehicles in the capital’s 33 boroughs which do not comply with emissions standards will be subject to a daily charge of £12.50 or face fines.
Boroughs Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon and Harrow, in addition to Surrey County Council, submitted an application for a judicial review to the High Court earlier this year, challenging the validity of Khan’s decision.
Now judges have granted the request, with proceedings expected to take place this summer.
According to the court ruling obtained by CityAM, High Court judge Sir Ross Cranston wrote: “The application for permission to apply for judicial review is granted on grounds one and three but refused on the other grounds.”
He said the claim hearing would be “expedited” and listed for the first week of July, or soon as possible to that date.
In the ruling, published on Wednesday, April 12, Sir Ross described the council’s claims about the mayor failing to follow procedural requirements as “arguable”.
But he said it was “doubtful as a matter of law” that the transport secretary needed to give consent for ULEZ to apply to trunk roads.
On scrappage, the third reasoning for the application, the judge ruled the claimants’ grounds that the mayor had not properly considered the issues were “on the cusp of being arguable”.
The second grounds, that the ULEZ consultation process was “so unfair as to be unlawful”, Sir Ross wrote, was not arguable “given the complexity of the issues”. He also said grounds four and five, on cost benefit analysis and predetermination, were not arguable.
The Conservative-run councils challenged the mayor and Transport for London (TfL) on five grounds, which were: failure to comply with relevant statutory requirements; unlawful failure to consider expected compliance rates in outer London; the proposed scrappage scheme was not consulted upon; failure to carry out any cost benefit analysis; and inadequate consultation and/or apparent predetermination arising from the conduct of the consultation.
Nick Rogers, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: “The High Court has now ruled there is sufficient evidence that Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ decision may have been unlawful.
“The mayor clearly does not have the legal grounds to proceed with his ULEZ tax plans, which take money from charities, small businesses and low income Londoners who cannot afford a new car.
“Sadiq Khan should do the right thing, immediately stop work on his ULEZ expansion, and explain his actions to the court.”
The court ruled grounds one and three had sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, according to sources.
A spokesperson for Khan said: “The mayor is pleased to see the court has refused permission for the majority of the grounds. We will continue to robustly defend his life-saving decision to expand the ULEZ and continue with preparations without delay.
“It is a shame that some local authorities have chosen to attempt this costly and misguided legal challenge instead of focusing on the health of those they represent.
“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to air pollution. This is a health emergency and the mayor is not prepared to stand by and do nothing while Londoners are growing up with stunted lungs and are more at risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia due to our toxic air.”
Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver said: “This is good news and I’m pleased that our challenge to the mayor regarding ULEZ is proceeding. The impact on Surrey’s residents and businesses has been ignored by the mayor and it’s frankly disgraceful that it’s taken legal proceedings to have our voices heard.”
He added: “Our consultation response in July 2022 clearly highlighted that the mayor’s decision failing to include Surrey residents in any scrappage scheme was unacceptable, and proposed a number of other recommendations to help mitigate both the financial and potential environmental impacts of the expansion.
“Our concerns have not been addressed by the mayor. We remain committed to delivering a greener future, but it must be done in a practical and sustainable way. We will now await the findings of the judicial review.”
More to follow.