Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come out and said he will join Hillingdon Council in its “fight against” Sadiq Khan’s proposed expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
“I know quite a lot about improving air quality in London. I brought in a lot more cycling, I brought in new hybrid buses, I brought in green electric taxis – and we got nitrous oxide down by 20%, we got PM10s, PM2.5s down by 15%. That was even before we brought in the ULEZ.”
Since Mr Johnson was the one who brought in zone to limit emissions within London’s city centre why has he labelled plans for its expansion “mad?”
“You do not need an all-London, outer London emissions zone. It’s inner London that has the air quality problem,” he said in a video he released on his Twitter account.
The caption of his tweet reads: “Stop Sadiq Khan’s mad ULEZ expansion plan. It will hit hardworking families and businesses in outer London with an unfair tax grab. That’s why I’m supporting Hillingdon Council in their fight against it.”
Stop Sadiq Khan’s mad ULEZ expansion plan.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 15, 2023
Hillingdon Council wrote a letter to Mr Khan, which stated: “We share your commitment to improve air quality but our outer London boroughs enjoy good air quality with NOx and PM2.5 levels considerably below the levels in inner and central London.”
Its plea continued: “Although you claim that the extension of ULEZ is not a money making venture, the evidence is to the contrary. Why else would you extend ULEZ when its social and economic cost is so clear and its benefits so small?
“And even if your assertion is right, the question will surely be asked, who would sensibly place upon low-income households the total cost of the negligible improvement in air quality that your scheme might deliver? We believe that the £270 million that it will cost to expand the scheme can be better spent to improve air quality that will not add to the financial burden on Londoners during the cost-of-living crisis.”
Boris Johnson’s reasoning for slamming the Mayor of London’s proposition is that “by 2030, all new cars in this country are going to be much cleaner and greener anyway.”
Mr Johnson claims that Sadiq Khan has “bankrupted Tfl by his mismanagement of the finances of London and he wants to rake in money from motorists in outer London and beyond in a way that is completely unreasonable and unnecessary for air quality.”
“Stop Khan’s mad ULEZ expansion plan. Fight the outer London ULEZ. Fight his plans to take money off hard pressed motorists at a very difficult time.”
Mr Khan defended his expansion of the scheme earlier today on BBC Radio London, stating: “Toxic air is a matter of life and death. I can’t put it more blunt than that. Unlike in the 1950s, you can’t see this invisible killer, in the 1950s you could see the great smog.”
He continued: “I think the right response is to take action. I appreciate some people may be driving polluting vehicles. That’s why we’ve announced the biggest package of support ever in the history of our country, not a penny of support from the government.
“I want to be on the right side of history, just like I was in 2006, when I voted to ban smoking in public places. Just like our politicians were in the 1950s, when they decided to ban power stations in the centre of our cities. I think in 10/20 years’ time, people are going to look back on those opposing the ULEZ expansion and be saying they were on the wrong side of history.”
"Toxic air is a matter of life and death"
After being inundated with questions about the ULEZ we asked the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to defend the scheme.
— BBC Radio London (@BBCRadioLondon) February 15, 2023
Responding directly to Mr Johnson’s comments, the Mayor’s Office told ELN: “This just shows how far Boris Johnson has moved away from the days when he was respected for his environmental credentials.
“The ULEZ has had a transformational impact reducing dirty emissions in the capital so far and it’s irresponsible to say that people in outer-London should keep breathing in the dirty air that leads to so many Londoners dying prematurely every year.
“In once again showing his disregard for the facts and for scientific experts, all Boris Johnson is doing is putting the health of Londoners at risk.”