Tories pledge to scrap outer London Ulez

A sign for the Ultra Low Emission Zone in Lewisham
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the Conservatives would "reverse" the Ulez expansion [PA Media]

Outer London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) will be scrapped if the Conservatives are re-elected to government, the party has announced.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper revealed the plan on Saturday, saying the Tories "will back drivers".

"We will reverse Sadiq Khan's unfair Ulez expansion and rule out any blanket 20mph zones because we are on the drivers' side," he said.

Labour called the plan "desperate stuff", the Liberal Democrats said the Conservatives have had since August to act on Ulez and the Greens stressed that Ulez was installed under the Mayor of London's powers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accused Labour of launching a "war on drivers".

A Labour spokesperson said: “This is desperate stuff from a government that has run out of road.

“Labour is on the side of drivers. We will leave decisions on safe school streets and local traffic measures to local communities - not politicians in Westminster.”

'Election time'

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: "The Conservatives have had a year to do this since the Labour mayor brought it in; they've not done it.

"It's funny that they come up with these policies at election time.”

He said what particularly “angered a lot of people” who drove into London from areas such as Surrey, Sussex, Hertfordshire and Kent, was that “they didn't get any help for a car scrappage scheme”.

Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell said: "Ulez is installed under the current powers of the Mayor of London so the Conservatives need to come clean about how they plan to take those powers away.

“Londoners like breathing cleaner air and have just voted in May overwhelmingly in favour of parties that support our London-wide clean air zone."

'Health and economic benefits'

In August, Ulez was expanded to include outer London. It previously covered the area between the A406 North Circular and A205 South Circular roads.

Drivers of the most polluting vehicles must pay a £12.50 daily charge if they use almost any road within Greater London, on top of any tolls or the inner London Congestion Charge.

Drivers of Ulez-compliant vehicles do not have to pay the fee.

In London's mayoral election last month, Conservative candidate Susan Hall also pledged to scrap the expanded zone.

The first assessment of the effect of Ulez - expanded to outer London - has yet to be released, with a spokesman for the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stating that it would come after the mayoral election.

Last year, research published by the University of Bath said the 2008 low emission zone (Lez) for lorries and the 2019 Ulez had both produced health and economic benefits for the city.

Ulez proved controversial when Mr Khan fronted its expansion to cover outer London boroughs, including areas such as Bromley, Croydon, Heathrow Airport and Wembley.

Vandals have damaged Ulez cameras and signage, while anti-Ulez protesters have gathered on several occasions in Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and Strand.

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