An Essex council has accused the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) of being a “tax grab” as it passed a motion opposing the scheme’s extension. 

Brentwood Borough Council agreed on March 15 that the expansion would be a “regressive tax inflicted upon the poorest motorists and is to the detriment of residents living here in Brentwood”. 

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s flagship clean-air policy zone is due to incorporate the whole of greater London from August 29 this year. Once implemented, people driving vehicles which cause the most pollution will have to pay a daily fee of £12.50 – typically affecting older cars. 

Conservative Cllr Keith Barber, who proposed the motion, said: “This proposal will impact many residential drivers and small businesses who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles in the timeline planned by the Mayor of London. 

“According to AutoTrader, the average cost of a ULEZ-compliant vehicle is now £18,295, and the Mayor of London is only offering a maximum of £2,000 to eligible residents. 

Related stories:

“The application of that scrappage allowance is highly limited to a small group of individuals and won’t benefit the vast majority of people affected. It also represents a small percentage of the cost of a replacement vehicle. 

“We all want to see air quality improve over time and the government has already set ambitious targets to switch to electric cars over the coming years. This is truly a sledge hammer to crack a nut that will have perverse outcomes for many Brentwood residents.” 

Romford Recorder: Sadiq Khan announced he would be extending the ULEZ last year, with the expanded zone due to be implemented on August 29Sadiq Khan announced he would be extending the ULEZ last year, with the expanded zone due to be implemented on August 29 (Image: Greater London Authority)

Cllr Tim Barrett (Lab, Brentwood South) said more needed to be done to negotiate with London, including attempting to get Brentwood included in the scrappage scheme.

Eligible applicants to the scheme can get up to £2,000 for scrapping a car or up to £1,000 for scrapping a motorcycle as long as they live in London. 

He said: “Whether I agree with ULEZ is inconsequential. It is up to London. It is outside our scope and control or sphere of influence. We do need to mitigate the effects on Brentwood."

The motion, which was passed, said: “Working people do not choose to drive older, more polluting vehicles out of choice. 

To get the latest news and features direct to your inbox, sign up for one of our newsletters here.

“Placing an additional financial burden on them with a £12.50 charge every time that they need to use their cars to travel into greater London will hit hard working families with a tax grab by the Mayor of London that will result in real hardship for those who need to work, travel to hospital or visit and support friends and relatives living within the proposed expanded zone but are unable (to) afford to replace their cars. 

“This council opposes the expansion proposal and supports Essex County Council in not co-operating with the installation of any signage to support such an expansion.” 

Sadiq Khan has said that toxic air caused by traffic is still leading to children growing up with stunted lungs and nearly 4,000 premature deaths a year – with the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in London’s outer boroughs. 

A City Hall report showed that harmful pollution emissions have reduced by 26 per cent within the current ULEZ area – compared with what they would have been without the 2021 expansion coming into force.