Gove may step in over Khan decision to block sending scrapped Ulez cars to Ukraine

Michael Gove
Michael Gove said he would happily intervene under the power granted to him as Secretary of State - Jordan Pettitt/PA

Michael Gove will seek to overrule Sadiq Khan’s decision to block cars that would otherwise be scrapped under the Ulez scheme being sent to Ukraine.

Mr Khan, the Mayor of London, rejected a suggestion by Vitali Klitschko, his Kyiv counterpart, to donate 4x4s and trucks, claiming to do so would fail to ensure that the Ulez scrappage scheme benefits Londoners from an “economic, social and environmental perspective”.

In a letter seen by The Telegraph, Mr Gove, the Communities Secretary, wrote to Mr Khan on Thursday saying he would happily intervene under the power granted to him as Secretary of State.

Writing to Mr Klitschko on Dec 12, Mr Khan said the Ulez scrappage scheme had been drawn up to “provide environmental benefits to Londoners”.

In his letter on Thursday, Mr Gove said he was “extremely disappointed” to learn that the Greater London Authority was not proposing to support Ukraine by donating the Ulez non-compliant vehicles.

He said he believed the problem was because Mr Khan had judged he did not have the “statutory footing” to do so with the powers granted to him under section 30 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (GLA).

Mr Gove said: “I would, in principle be happy to use my powers under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to issue guidance on your s30 powers if that would allow you to support Ukraine.

“I am sure that you would agree that taking these same vehicles off London’s roads – and thus achieving the same environmental benefits – whilst supporting the efforts in Ukraine, is preferable simply to scrapping them.”

He said the Government was also willing to “look at all our options within our powers to ensure we can support the people of Ukraine with London’s scrapped cars”.

Under the Ulez scheme, motorists can claim a one-off payment of £2,000 if they scrap a vehicle that does not comply with the levy. If they choose to keep their non-compliant vehicles – most diesel cars registered before September 2015 and petrol cars registered before January 2006 – they must pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive them in the zone.

Nearly 700,000 cars registered in Greater London are Ulez non-compliant, according to RAC research.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, numerous volunteer organisations have been driving donated 4x4s and larger vehicles for soldiers to use on Ukraine’s front line.

Once inside the country, the vehicles are painted with camouflage, fitted with machine-gun or rocket launchers, and used for everything from fighting to retrieving casualties.

Richard Lofthouse, who works with Car for Ukraine, one of the volunteer groups taking vehicles to the country, said: “There are quite possibly Londoners who would prefer to scrap their cars knowing that they will play out a heroic last act in Ukraine rather than just disappear into the automotive abattoir.

“If that’s true then the scrappage scheme will be more successful if Ukraine is added as an option, taking more polluting vehicles off London streets and directly benefiting Londoners. Conceptually at least, that would remove the Mayor’s cited legal concern.”

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq is calling on the Government to temporarily alter the national regulations for the Certificate of Destruction, which is required as proof that a vehicle has been permanently scrapped, to enable the export of suitable vehicles to the Ukraine via a registered charity or national scheme.

“Officials are already in discussions and we are optimistic the government will listen to our pleas to enable Londoners to receive money for taking polluting vehicles off London’s streets while helping the people of Ukraine.”