Protesters claim London air is ‘not toxic at all’ in fight against Ulez plans

Hundreds of protestors made their feelings known on London Bridge on Saturday (Yui Mok/PA)
Hundreds of protestors made their feelings known on London Bridge on Saturday (Yui Mok/PA) Hundreds of protestors made their feelings known on London Bridge on Saturday (Yui Mok/PA)

Hundreds of protesters descended on London Bridge as they fought against expansion plans of Ultra Low Emissions Zones (Ulez).

Labour mayor Sadiq Khan intends to expand the capital’s ultra low emission zone to cover the entirety of outer London.

Last month, a High Court judge decided five Conservative-led councils could challenge the plan.

If it goes ahead, the Ulez expansion will see drivers in outer London pay a £12.50 daily fee from August 29 if their vehicles do not meet required emissions standards.

Hundreds had their say as they halted traffic driving across the city centre bridge in a bid to prevent plans to expand the Ulez reach to the whole of London.

John Hemming-Clark, a scout leader for 12 years, said it will cost him £25 to now take a group of children away camping at weekends in his car.

The 63-year-old told the PA news agency: “I’m a scout leader and I have a 10-year-old car, it’s going to cost me £25 every week to take the children to camps.

“Why I think it’s so unjust is because Sadiq Khan’s manifesto had no mention of this, there’s real hardships in the likes of Bromley and people need their cars to see relatives or go to the hospital.

“Central London is one thing but Khan introducing Ulez to outer London unopposed is another. At the moment, we have local protests but if this does go ahead and people realise this does affect the wider population, God knows what will happen.”

Bells and whistles sounded out as the protesters marched back and forth over the bridge, with the group chanting “get Khan out”.

King Charles III coronation
King Charles III coronation Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Speaking after the release of his new book, Breathe: Tackling The Climate Emergency, on Friday, Mr Khan said: “My mum’s got asthma, she’s 82 (and lives nearby), I’ve got two children, 23 and 21, but I’ve also got nephews and nieces, neighbours and friends.

“Members of my family could get dementia, heart disease or cancer directly attributable to the poor-quality air. So, of course, there’s a self interest in relation to the impact on me, my family and friends.”

Despite Mr Khan’s argument that Ulez has been introduced to help with air quality, protesters refuted those claims.

Jane Green said: “We want to stop the poorest of people from having an additional cost to their livelihoods.

“Those who have the older cars are the ones who can’t afford the charge or to buy a new car.

“If you look at the air quality website regularly, you’d see it’s a lie, the air of London is not toxic at all.

“Just look, it’s not toxic.”

Trevor Adams told PA it was one step closer to pay per mile, where drivers would have to pay per mile of their journey across the capital.

He said: “If you look at the readings, the worst areas are in the London Underground, not on the streets.

“This is the first thing I’ve ever felt strong enough to come out on the streets for.”

At the beginning of the month, former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers urged MPs to back her law change, which would allow ministers to intervene on decisions about transport and air quality.

Ms Villiers, who represents Chipping Barnet in outer London, told the Commons: “In my 18 years as an MP … almost nothing has provoked such strong opposition as the Mayor of London’s plan to expand the ultra low emission zone.

“It comes up on almost every doorstep and at almost every meeting. People stop me in the street to tell me how strongly they feel about this, and over 50,000 have signed the Conservative petition.

“That is why I am bringing forward this Bill to give the Government power to overrule Mayor Khan and stop Ulez expansion.”