Ulez cameras covered with bags and boxes by protesters

Ulez camera covered with bag
Ulez camera covered with bag

Drivers have taken revenge on Sadiq Khan’s controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) scheme by covering its enforcement cameras with bags and boxes.

The cameras, for Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), operate 24 hours a day to police the clean air zone.

Now opponents of Ulez have resorted to guerilla tactics to stop the cameras snaring motorists, including putting shopping bags over them. One camera was spotted covered by a cardboard box with the words “stop electing idiots” printed on its side.

In another part of the capital, people used supermarket bags for life to cover two cameras across the street from each other.

Many opponents of the scheme expressed their delight as pictures of the covered-up cameras appeared on social media, with one user suggesting a weight should be tied to the bag handle to ensure “the bag doesn’t get blown off”.

A Ulez camera covered with a shopping bag
A Ulez camera covered with a shopping bag

The fightback comes as opposition grows against the expansion of Ulez, with politicians and campaign groups calling on <r Khan, the London Mayor, to reverse his decision.

He has repeatedly stated that the policy is to help reduce the amount of toxic air Londoners are breathing in and to cut the number who die prematurely because of air pollution, estimated at 4,000 a year in a study by Imperial College London.

According to latest TfL data, 300 new ANPR cameras have been installed across the expanded Ulez zone. TfL expects to install a further 2,750 before the official launch of the scheme at the end of August, at a cost of at least £45 million.

Earlier this month, several new Ulez cameras in south London were vandalised, with pictures on social media appearing to show their wires had been cut.

When it goes ahead, the expansion will see the Ulez charge cover all of London’s 32 boroughs. It will mean that, after August, all cars that do not meet European emissions standards will have to pay a £12.50 charge every day.

Most petrol vehicles less than 16 years old and diesel vehicles under six years old meet these standards.

Last week, The Telegraph revealed that the Metropolitan Police could be allowed to use Ulez cameras to monitor crime even if the planned expansion of the zone is delayed.

TfL documents from November propose handing over “sole control” of newly installed Ulez cameras to the police if the expansion was to be delayed or even scrapped.

The revelations were buried in TfL’s Data Protection Assessment Ulez report which says the Met will be able to use the cameras for “law enforcement or policing purposes”.

The permissions given to the Met are for the purpose of “preventing and detecting” crime, meaning officers will be able to intercept and identify vehicles they believe are involved in criminality. The report also suggests using the cameras for monitoring traffic volumes.

The proposals have been met with stiff opposition from privacy campaign groups, which have said there are already concerns about the expanded surveillance that comes with the Ulez expansion.

Sophia Akram, of Open Rights Group,  said: “That these cameras will be used regardless, even if the Ulez scheme doesn’t go ahead, will undermine public trust even further.”