Conservatives pledge to ‘reverse’ outer London ULEZ if they win General Election

A ULEZ sign
-Credit: (Image: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Top Tories have pledged to block Wales-style 20mph zones and scrap the outer part of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) if the Conservatives are re-elected.

The party would table a 'Backing Drivers Bill' aimed to 'protect drivers from the draconian policies of local Labour politicians', the party said in a statement. Driving policies, specifically ULEZ, were a big part of the campaign for London Mayor by the Conservative candidate Susan Hall. However, she lost out to Labour's Sadiq Khan, the implementer of ULEZ, potentially overestimating the opposition to the policy.

Now, with General Election campaigns underway, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We will reverse Sadiq Khan’s unfair ULEZ expansion and rule out any blanket 20-mile-an-hour zones because we are on the drivers’ side. And we will rule out any pay-per-mile road tax to keep costs for drivers down.

READ MORE: 'I'd never consider driving now': The success of London's first Low Traffic Neighbourhood 10 years on

Protesters hold placards and flag during a anti-ULEZ expansion demonstration on the Trafalgar Square
Small groups of protesters came out to campaign against the policy for Susan Hall during her campaign for London Mayor -Credit:Krisztian Elek/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“There’s a clear choice at this election – Labour who will continue to penalise drivers or the Conservatives who will back drivers.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took aim at Labour leaders in Westminster and Cardiff Bay, accusing them of launching a “war on drivers”.

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.

According to Mayor of London figures from October last year, 95% of vehicles on the capital’s roads are “compliant with clean air standards” – up from 39% in 2017. Imperial College London, commissioned by City Hall, found that “toxic air” contributed to around 4,000 premature deaths in the capital.

But the policy proved controversial when Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan fronted its expansion to cover outer London boroughs last year – into areas such as Bromley, Croydon, Heathrow Airport and Wembley. It previously covered the area between the A406 North Circular and A205 South Circular roads.

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

The Welsh Government reduced the restricted roads “default” speed from 30mph to 20mph in December last year, in built-up areas including villages, towns and cities.

Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Ken Skates, “is undertaking a programme of listening” between April and July this year, according to the Welsh Government, and will produce new policy guidance for the autumn.

“We still believe that 20mph is right, but we want to make sure we are getting the right speeds on the right roads,” a Welsh Government webpage reads.

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