Hertfordshire County Council is opposed to the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) into the county.
The council has warned that it will not allow ULEZ signs or cameras to be located within the county’s borders, and will consider taking legal action, pending the outcome of an ongoing Judicial Review.
The ULEZ expansion is due to take effect in August 2023. Under the new rules, any motorist driving a higher emission vehicle into Greater London would have to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
Hertfordshire County Council is concerned that the expansion of the ULEZ would create an “effective tax border” between the county and London. The council also argues that the expansion would disproportionately impact low-income residents who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles.
The council has called on the Mayor of London to “pause” the expansion of the ULEZ and to redraw the zone boundary. The council has also urged the Mayor to provide public transport options for those who cannot upgrade their vehicles.
“In Hertfordshire, many residents, families and businesses are telling us that they are dealing with the tightest squeeze on their finances in over a generation,” he says.
“The simple fact of the matter is that at this time many people with non-compliant vehicles, often the lowest paid in society cannot afford to upgrade their cars, are not eligible for the scrappage scheme and have no viable public transport alternatives.”
Cllr Roberts highlights Transport for London plans to develop existing car parks in outer London.
And he says: “I would personally ask that you pause the expansion of the zone and look to redraw the zone boundary to align with outer London public transport hubs, providing those who cannot upgrade their vehicle with public transport options before having to absorb the proposed £12.50 per day cost of the expanded zone.”
The council’s Labour and Liberal Democrat groups have proposed amendments to the council’s motion opposing the expansion of the ULEZ. The Labour group has proposed that the council ask for a government-funded wider scrappage scheme to cover London and the Home Counties. The Liberal Democrat group has proposed that an enhanced scrappage scheme should be put in place that includes residents in districts and boroughs adjoining Greater London.
The letter – sent on Friday – comes after a meeting of the county council agreed that the ULEZ expansion needed a “complete rethink” on Tuesday (July 18).
The motion – proposed by executive member for the environment Cllr Eric Buckmaster – said the charge would be ‘an additional tax’.
“It is bad enough that Hertfordshire residents will have an effective tax border erected in the south of the county,” says the motion.
“But it means that all the residents in the counties surrounding London will end up subsidising Mayor Khan’s social services, transport, or whatever financial hole that needs topping up.
“This is unfair, hitting the most vulnerable at the worst time. This needs a complete rethink.”
Transport for London estimate that nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London already meet ULEZ emissions standards.
And while charges would be imposed on Herts residents travelling over the border to work, to school, to socialise or for healthcare, Cllr Buckmaster stressed that the London Mayor’s ‘scrappage scheme’ was not available to them.
The unamended motion was agreed by the council, with the Conservative majority voting for it and the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups voting against it.