Some of the London boroughs opposing or calling for delays to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) extension have done the least to support residents switch to cleaner forms of transport, a new study suggests. 

Research by the environmental charity Possible, carried out via Freedom of Information requests submitted to all 32 boroughs and the City of London, found that, as of October 2022, Havering, Harrow, Bexley and Barking and Dagenham were among those to have installed the fewest public electric vehicle (EV) charging points in the capital. 

Not all of those either to have formally opposed the ULEZ or called for a delay were among the worst performers, the data shows. Croydon, for example, which is one of the boroughs challenging the extension, reported installing 285 charging points, more than some boroughs accepting it, including Redbridge (53), Newham (140) and Enfield (117). 

However, the bottom three boroughs, namely Bexley (26), Hillingdon (21) and Havering (0), are all opposed to the zone’s expansion in August. 

Possible’s data collectively shows how Havering, Harrow, Hillingdon, Bexley, Barking and Dagenham and Bromley had installed fewer than 200 public EV charging points, far below the 1,600 reported for Hammersmith and Fulham, the best-performing borough. 

Romford Recorder: Possible's data shows how the London boroughs opposed to the ULEZ expansion have, on average, installed the fewest EV charging pointsPossible's data shows how the London boroughs opposed to the ULEZ expansion have, on average, installed the fewest EV charging points (Image: (c) climate charity Possible)

Leo Murray, co-director of Possible, said: “If people living in these boroughs feel trapped driving dirty vehicles, then perhaps their councils should be using the powers and funding available to them to help residents clean up their travel, instead of carping from the sidelines.” 

A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council said Possible’s claim it is fighting the ULEZ scheme is “not accurate”, and that it is instead suggesting the mayor phase it in "some time in the future”. 

They added the borough is committed to tackling climate change and is about to adopt its Zero Carbon Roadmap, “which will help the borough transition to lower emissions through active travel, new cycling networks and an expansion of EV charge-point infrastructure”, and that it has an aim of 250 new sockets by May 2024 and 2,000 by 2026. 

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Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Council, said: “I am committed to putting residents first and improving air quality. In Harrow over the coming year we will double the number of council-provided electric vehicle charging points, create the first publicly available car club parking spaces in the borough, and invest in our pavements, parks and secure cycle storage at Harrow on the Hill Tube station.” 

He added he believes there are alternatives to the ULEZ which the mayor could consider, including upgrading London’s bus fleet, increasing accessible bus services in outer London and investing in more electric charging infrastructure. 

On the expansion, a spokesperson for London mayor, Sadiq Khan, previously said: “We have no time for inaction when around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air, and thousands more develop life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma."

A Havering Council spokesperson said: “There is simply no link between our position on ULEZ, and the installation of electric vehicle charging points in Havering and our wider ambitions to address air quality issues and our local climate agenda.  

“Indeed we have made our position clear - it is the wrong time to introduce ULEZ for our residents while other costs are high and more needs to be done to mitigate its introduction. 

“Tackling climate change is and remains a major priority for the Council. We have received £350,000 from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, which will be using to install 80 on-street charging points and a further 68 in Council car parks. 

“We are in the process of developing an electric vehicle charging point strategy which will set out our long-term objectives of how we plan to deliver points both on-street and off-street in the coming years.  

“The procurement process of recruiting an operator to install the charge points will also be underway soon.” 

Hillingdon Council, Bexley Council and Bromley Council were also approached for comment.

This article was updated after its initial publication with Havering Council's comment.