Mayor of London Sadiq Khan can press on with a controversial expansion of the ultra low emissions zone (ULEZ) which penalizes high-polluting vehicles in the capital, a High Court judge ruled Friday.
Five Conservative councils brought a legal challenge against the Labour mayor’s plan, which has sparked a major political debate about green policies in the U.K. But the judicial review was dismissed Friday morning, meaning the scheme can now be extended to outer London areas, as planned, on August 29.
ULEZ is aimed at cutting the capital’s high levels of air pollution and protecting residents’ health. It imposes a £12.50 daily charge on the most polluting vehicles. Around one in 10 vehicles will be affected, according to City Hall stats.
Khan welcomed the “landmark decision,” saying air pollution was an “urgent public health crisis.”
“This unambiguous decision today in the High Court allows us to press on with the difficult but vital task of cleaning up London’s air and tackling the climate crisis,” he said.
The proposed expansion into outer London areas was a critical factor in last week’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.
The Conservatives clung on to former prime minister Boris Johnson’s old seat in the west London suburbs, despite a national upswing in support for the Labour opposition. Tory campaigners argued that the new charge would unfairly hit residents in pocket.
The success of their approach has prompted both main parties to look again at their environmental and net zero policies. On Thursday, Labour Leader Keir Starmer called on Khan to “reflect” on the Uxbridge result and the “impact” that ULEZ is having on people.