Protests against the expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) are being held as the scheme expands to take in the entire capital.
Dozens of protesters are lining the streets outside Downing Street calling for the ULEZ expansion, which came into force today, to be scrapped.
The first day of the expanded ULEX scheme got off to a rocky start, as a number of new cameras designed to catch and fine non-compliant vehicles were vandalised.
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Dozens have been covered in paint, had wires cut, or even had the poles they stand on completely destroyed.
Plus, drivers trying to check if their car is ULEZ compliant or not have struggled to get access to the TfL website, with some left waiting in virtual queues.
First introduced by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London in 2015, the scheme has covered central London since April 2019 – where a significant improvement in air quality has been reported.
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In its first 10 months of operation, road transport nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions reduce by 35% and CO2 emissions by 6%.
The scheme’s expansion has been led by Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, and the zone now covers all of greater London.
But the scheme has mixed popularity, with a number of protests held over its expansion in recent weeks.
Further protests are being held today to mark the scheme’s expansion, with protesters carrying placards saying ‘Stop the Toxic Air Lie’ and ‘ULEZ all about money’.
Dozens of activists were blowing whistles and banging drums, while others carried mocked-up car registration plates reading ‘Get Khan out’.
The Conservatives say they have no way to reverse the controversial scheme – but protesters are arguing there must be a way.
Husband and wife Tom and Carolyn Dare are amongst the protesters, and say they want Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ‘overrule Sadiq Kahn’.
‘He has got the power. They can get rid of a prime minister, anytime they like,’ Ms Dare said, adding she felt the Conservatives were using the issue to fight Labour and to help them win the next election ‘but they are hurting a lot of people’.
The pair said the new charge was a significant portion of their weekly pension.
Mr Dare said the mayor was ‘shutting down London basically’, adding: ‘A lot of people come to theatres of a night, but it’s going to cost them more money to come to the theatre.
‘Or if you want to pop out to meet family or relatives, it is going to cost you money, all the time.
‘At our age, we can’t afford to get a new loan to get a new car.’
Mr Sunak claimed that sole responsibility for the scheme lies with Mr Khan, amid questions about Boris Johnson’s role as mayor in the original development of ULEZ.
‘There is one party and one person responsible for what is happening and that is the Labour mayor and the Labour Party in London, supported by Keir Starmer,’ he said.
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