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London ULEZ expansion: £2,000 scrappage scheme grant offered to non-compliant car owners

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn confirms grants for all non-ULEZ complaint cars, but it is only being offered to Londoners

ULEZ sign

London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed that a massive expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will go ahead from 29 August, in spite of strong opposition from the many additional drivers who will have to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

Mayor Khan has also confirmed that all Londoners with a car that doesn’t meet the ULEZ emission standard – which typically means a petrol car made before 2006 or a diesel car made before 2015 – will now be eligible to apply for a £2,000 scrappage grant. However, while the scrappage scheme will provide some relief to drivers forced to change their cars, it won’t help the many commuters into London's outer boroughs who will now find themselves forced to pay daily charges thanks to the extension - including many key workers.

There’s a £160 million fund to cover the cost of the scheme, but grant-eligible cars need to have been registered at their owner’s London address since January 2022, and have current insurance, road tax and MoT.

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Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, says the organisation welcomes the news that lower income households and small businesses are to be helped, but:  “Unfortunately, those living just outside of Greater London who commute into the expanded zone with non-compliant cars will not benefit, so we once again urge the Government to work with the Mayor to ensure some support is offered to key workers who fall into this category.”

London ULEZ expansion: High Court ruling

The High Court has ruled against a legal challenge to Sadiq Khan’s proposed extension to the London ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). As a result, the ULEZ expansion is deemed lawful and can proceed as planned. 

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The London boroughs of Hillingdon, Bexley, Bromley and Harrow, along with Surrey County Council, launched the court action challenging mayor Khan’s proposal to extend the boundaries of ULEZ, which is currently contained within the North and South Circular roads. The plan is for the boundary to expand to cover the entire Greater London Authority Area. That means anyone driving a non-ULEZ-compliant vehicle inside most of the area bounded by the M25 motorway will face a daily charge of £12.50.

Non-compliant ULEZ cars include those that can’t meet Euro 4 or Euro 6 emissions standards for petrol and diesel engines respectively. Campaigners say this means it is an unfair tax on drivers of older cars, who typically are least well-placed to pay. The ULEZ applies 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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The boroughs that tried to block the extension issued a legal challenge on a number of different grounds, but the High Court agreed the hear only two. The first was that there may have been a failure to follow statutory procedures, as the proposed zone alterations are so large as to effectively constitute a new scheme. The second is that there was insufficient consultation on a proposed scrappage scheme designed to assist certain eligible Londoners.

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The claims were rejected in the High Court, giving the Mayor a green light to introduce the scheme. The judge, Mr Justice Swift, found the decision to expand the ULEZ was legally sound, and that the ULEZ could legally apply to all roads within the expanded zone.

Speaking to BBC News in the wake of the verdict, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: "I welcome the judgement today. I've been told more than £1m of council taxpayers' money has been wasted on this case".

"I'm quite clear though, I made this decision to expand ULEZ because it is really important we address the public health crisis."

London traffic

“Nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already compliant so won't pay a penny - yet will still see the benefits of cleaner air. Air pollution is an urgent public health crisis - our children are growing up with stunted lungs and it is linked to a host of serious conditions, from heart disease to cancer and dementia."

Aside from the legal challenges, the fight against the ULEZ expansion has seen demonstrations in London, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told parliament he believed the plans should be rethought. In the recent Uxbridge by-election the ULEZ issue was cited as a major reason why the Conservatives were able to retain the seat, with campaigners focusing on the proposals from the Labour London mayor. 

The leaders of the local councils that brought the case against the ULEZ expansion expressed their disappointment outside court.  Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey Council, said the decision was "incredibly disappointing". Adding that: "This has always been about protecting Surrey residents, many of whom will now be significantly socially and financially impacted by the mayor's decision as they go about essential, everyday journeys".

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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