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High Court clears the air in ULEZ challenge


In a judgment handed down today, the High Court (Swift J) dismissed the challenge brought by four London boroughs and Surrey County Council to the Mayor of London’s decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (the “ULEZ”) London-wide.

The Claimants had been given permission on three of five grounds of challenge. The first ground principally concerned whether the Mayor had power under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to expand the ULEZ London-wide by varying the existing charging scheme order or whether the changes went beyond the scope of a variation, so that he was required to make a new, freestanding charging scheme order. The second ground of challenge related to whether sufficient, and sufficiently clear, information had been provided to the public in the consultation TfL had carried out on the proposals. The third ground of challenge concerned the Mayor’s decision to approve a grant payment of £110 million to Transport for London to meet the cost a vehicle scrappage scheme intended to mitigate certain effects of the ULEZ expansion, where eligibility was limited to London residents and businesses. The Mayor had relied on the scrappage scheme as a mitigation for some adverse impacts of ULEZ expansion.

The High Court dismissed all three grounds of challenge.

On the first ground, it held that the Mayor had power to expand the ULEZ by way of a variation to the existing charging scheme. On the second ground, it held that the consultation materials provided enough, sufficiently clear information for the public to make informed responses to the proposals. On the third ground, it held that the Mayor’s decision to provide £110 million in funding for the scrappage scheme and his reliance upon this as a mitigation were lawful. The Mayor had sufficiently understood the limitation to Londoners, that limitation was not irrational, and the eligibility criteria were sufficiently explained in the consultation materials and the materials that informed the Mayor’s own decision.

The judgment is available here. 

David Heaton and Sophie Bird (instructed by Transport for London Legal) appeared on behalf of the Mayor (the Defendant) and Transport for London (the Interested Party).