The expansion of London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) on August 29 got off to a troubled start, with dozens of cameras designed to catch non-compliant vehicles being vandalized.
The expansion of the ULEZ means that drivers of cars, vans, motorcycles, and buses that do not meet certain emission standards will now have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive within the expanded zone, which covers all of Greater London.
“This is a shot in the arm for sole traders, whose businesses will be hit by the Ulez charge from today,” said Craig Beaumont of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
At midday, protesters against the ULEZ expansion gathered outside Downing Street in central London to voice their discontent. The backlash against the scheme is also growing online, with a petition calling for its reversal attracting more than 100,000 signatures.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has defended the expansion of the ULEZ, saying that it is necessary to improve air quality in the city and reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution. However, critics of the scheme say that it is unfair to motorists who are already facing rising costs, and that it will disproportionately impact low-income Londoners.
However, A spokesperson for Transport for London (TfL) said: “Rules around tax deductible expenses will apply in the usual way to Ulez charges.
“This is a matter for HMRC but it is likely to depend upon the nature of the operation and circumstances around incurring the charge as to whether it is tax deductible, as is the case for other expenses”.
In a statement HMRC said: “Self Assessment customers are entitled to tax relief on travel expenses, including low emission zone charges, if they have been incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade.
“When a self-employed individual claims an allowable expense, the amount is deducted fully from their taxable profits.”
In the meantime, motorists who are trying to avoid the ULEZ fees are offering residents who live on a “charge-free corridor” £100 a month to park their cars on their driveways.
LBC reports that Vispi Irani, 68, who lives on Bridge Road said “A chap came round and put notes through my and my neighbours’ doors. He was offering £100 a month to let him park on our drive so he could get around paying the charge.”
He said: “I think it’s [the Ulez charge] ridiculous.
“We don’t have to pay it on the road where we live, but I’m planning on changing my car, so I won’t have to pay it for the others.”
ULEZ Expansion Met with Vandalism and Protests
An anonymous activist group called the “Blade Runners” have vowed to put the cameras out of action.
In the early hours of August 29, vandals sprayed four cameras red in Bromley, covered the lenses of, cut the wires of, and even demolished ULEZ cameras across London.
In Bromley, more than a dozen cameras were vandalized before the expansion came into effect at midnight.
The Met Police report there have been 185 destroyed cables, 164 stolen cameras, and 38 obscured.
Residents living in Chessington welcomed the CCTV installed on their street being taken out of action by vigilantes.
The ULEZ expansion is a controversial issue, and it is likely to continue to be debated for some time to come.