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Hundreds join ULEZ expansion protest in Orpington

Hundreds gathered in Orpington High Street protest against the ULEZ expansion <i>(Image: Louis Hyett)</i>
Hundreds gathered in Orpington High Street protest against the ULEZ expansion (Image: Louis Hyett)

Hundreds of people in Orpington have gathered for a protest against the ULEZ expansion, which is set to cover all of London in August.

Today (May 13) at 12pm hundreds of people gathered outside of Orpington High Street in a protest organised by the group Action Against ULEZ Expansion.

The protest follows on from an earlier ULEZ expansion protest that took place on March 25, 2023.

TFL’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion is set to be extended on August 29, 2023 and is set to cover all London boroughs from this date.

Motorists with non-compliant ULEZ vehicles will be charged £12.50 a day to drive their vehicle in the area if it isn’t compliant.

The group has said that tradespeople including farmers, tree surgeons, delivery drivers and hauliers would be in attendance, along with vintage vehicle owners, motorcyclists and scooterists.

The protest was joined by Reform UK’s London Mayor candidate Howard Cox and Orpington MP Gareth Bacon.

Orpington resident Louis Hyett has described these charges as “toxic” and has said they will have an impact on friends visiting from areas outside of London.

The 70-year-old said: “Orpington and surrounding areas do not have fantastic public transport.

“Friends of mine live in Sevenoaks and Westerham and will have to pay this toxic charge to visit.

“The rally today was well attended and included Gareth Bacon MP and Peter Fortune who is the AM for Bromley and Bexley.

News Shopper: Hundreds turned up for the ULEZ expansion protest in Orpington
News Shopper: Hundreds turned up for the ULEZ expansion protest in Orpington

Hundreds turned up for the ULEZ expansion protest in Orpington (Image: Louis Hyett)

“Richard Tice and Howard Cox were also there.

“It was a great atmosphere by a noisy and peaceful group of attendees.”

In attendance today was Robert Swale, from Bromley, who lives with a rare blood condition that affects his immune system.

He described the expansion as being “inhumane” for people with chronic illnesses like his.

The 43-year-old said: “I have a rare blood condition that affects my immune system. Forcing people out of their vehicles with absolutely no support in such cases is inhumane.

"I have a compliant vehicle (for now) and am fortunate enough not to be in the situation others are with similar conditions, in that they can’t afford to replace their non-compliant vehicles and or don’t qualify for any assistance.

"Whilst I’m certainly not against clean air, the socioeconomic harm the ULEZ expansion will cause far outweighs the negligible impact it will have on air quality.”

Action Against ULEZ Expansion administrator Paula Clarke said the protest was joined by agricultural vehicles and motorbikes to highlight the affect that the expansion will have on the Orpington area. 

Paula said: “It was a great turnout, with agricultural vehicles, motorbikes and cars all showing support.

“Overall we raised more awareness of ULEZ and the importance of why it needs to be removed.”

News Shopper: The protest was joined by residents as well as local tradespeople, farmers and other professionals.
News Shopper: The protest was joined by residents as well as local tradespeople, farmers and other professionals.

The protest was joined by residents as well as local tradespeople, farmers and other professionals. (Image: Louis Hyett)

A further ULEZ expansion protest is set to take place in London Bridge on May 27, organised by the Action Against ULEZ Expansion group.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London has said that the decision to expand the ULEZ scheme into Greater London was “necessary.”

They also added that there is a scrappage scheme of £110 million to help disabled people, micro-businesses, sole traders and charities.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was not an easy decision for the Mayor to make but – with around 4,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year due to toxic air, children growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city developing life-changing illnesses – it was a necessary one.

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“In Bromley, around 200 people – the highest out of all London boroughs – lose their lives prematurely each year due to toxic air pollution. 

“Nine out of ten cars in outer London are already ULEZ compliant.

“The Mayor is determined to continue engaging with Londoners who have concerns and has listened to Londoners throughout this process.

“That is why he has announced the biggest scrappage scheme yet - £110m - to help the Londoners who need it most, including charities, low-income and disabled Londoners, micro-businesses and sole traders.”