Opponents of London’s ULEZ expansion have launched a guerilla war against the very cameras that will be used to police the controversial scheme.
Shopping bags and cardboard boxes have started to appear over the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras set up by Transport for London (TfL) across the capital.
More than 300 ANPR devices have been recently installed, while a total of 2,750 are due to be added in time for the official ULEZ expansion launch date on August 29 later this year.
A box placed over a camera by one vigilante was had the words ‘stop electing idiots’ printed on its side.
Bag for strife: Saisbury’s shopping bag is slung over a number plate recognition camera for the ULEZ scheme in London as a form of protest
Instead of just blocking the camera, one vandal decided to share a message to the public about their feelings towards the ULEZ scheme
The scheme aims to reduce air pollution in London, and drivers whose cars do not meet minimum emissions standards are charged a £12.50 daily fee for entering the zone.
But, it has been revealed that the Met Police and British Transport Police will have access to the cameras for crime-fighting purposes, sparking privacy fears from campaigners.
The ULEZ is just one of a range of measures introduced while Sadiq Khan has been London Mayor. Other green schemes include the many Lower Traffic Neighbourhoods (or LTNs) that block traffic moving through back roads, and the roll out of miles of cycle lanes throughout the city.
Critics say London mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the zone to cover the majority of land within the M25 unfairly targets the poor and many have taken to social media to applaud the vandals who have been covering the cameras.
Chris Rose tweeted: ‘Absolutely love that locals in London have covered the money grabbing ULEZ cameras with cardboard boxes and bags for life.’
Another user even suggested tying ‘a small weight to bag handle, ensuring the bag doesn’t get blown off’.
While Elliana Eaton wrote: ‘This is brilliant!! Taxing the poor yet again. Cannot believe it’s coming in this August for Greater London.
‘So many people (especially elderly) are going to become so isolated. Plus all the people trying to earn a living on poor pay. Just outrageous.’
Not everyone was in favour of the bags covering the cameras, with Twitter user Scott asking: ‘Who wants to live in a city full of dirty air?’
It’s one of the latest attacks on the scheme, after four cameras in Abbey Wood, Greenwich, were photographed with their wires cute and lenses painted black.
Photographs have emerged of a camera in west Sutton, which also had its wires cut, and another in Catford, Lewisham, with a lens painted black in a bid to obstruct its view. Others also show cameras ripped from their perch and thrown on the ground.
By blocking the view of the camera, the vandals hope that drivers who do not meet minimum emissions standards won’t be charged the £12.50 daily fee for entering the zone
Farmers in tractors in Orpington, southeast London, paraded the streets today (pictured) as they joined the growing protests against Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion
Bagged for life: Two heavy-duty shopping bags cover ANPR cameras on either side of a road in London
Photographs have emerged of a camera in west Sutton which had its wires cut
Despite the camera’s being installed at a rapid pace in most areas, they have not yet been put in place in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon, whose councils are looking to challenge the mayor in court over the proposals.
Yesterday farmers banded together to join the growing protests against Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion.
Tractors paraded through the streets of Orpington today as locals slammed the Labour Mayor of London ‘s extreme plan, which is attempting to make the air cleaner.
Orpington MP Gareth Bacon MP said he would ‘do everything in his power’ to prevent Khan’s Ulez charge from coming to Orpington.
He said: ‘Not only is the mayor taxing people who do not vote for him, but he will also end up making the poor poorer and punishing those on lower incomes who can least afford to buy a newer car to avoid the daily charge.’
Londoners can apply for a means-tested grant of up to £2,000 to scrap their non ULEZ-compliant cars or motorcycles. But the decision to push ahead with the expansion during the cost-of-living crisis has been met with outrage.
It comes after Honslow council was accused of hypocrisy after backing the expansion – then asking for an exemption for its own 400 vehicles.
Hounslow council deputy leader Katherine Dunne wrote to the London mayor last summer raising concerns that it would not be able to make all its vehicles ULEZ compliant by the August 2023 deadline.
The council is one of 16 outer London boroughs that have supported the mayor’s plans to expand the zone, and already has 37 ULEZ cameras installed on its streets.
Newly-installed ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) cameras in south London have been vandalised
Mr Khan has been facing staunch criticism recently over branding some ULEZ opponents as ‘far-right’ and ‘Covid deniers’.
During a heated People’s Question Time in Ealing, west London, he said: ‘Let’s be frank, let’s call a spade a spade… some of those outside are part of the far-Right, some are Covid deniers, some are vaccine deniers and some are Tories.’
Angered members of the public reportedly shouted back: ‘We are not far-Right – normal people are not far-Right.’
In response to the comments, Mr Khan said: ‘My point was that there were decent people, including Tory members, who’ve got legitimate objections, and I’m not sure these decent people realised that standing with them were conspiracy theorists and people holding swastikas.’
It also emerged that the mayor has asked Transport for London to look into using ULEZ cameras to charge car users in a ‘pay-as-you-drive’ scheme in the capital.
The ultra-low emission zone is to be expanded in August to cover the whole of Greater London – seen here in purple
Mr Khan has previously revealed he wants to impose a network of ‘Singapore-style’ toll roads throughout London as part of efforts to improve the capital’s air quality.
He said the ‘nearest comparator’ for his road user charging plans was Singapore, which has ‘electronic road pricing’ which uses sensors attached to gantries over main roads to capture number plates.
These sensors track at what time drivers are using certain roads and charges them a toll based on these factors, for example rush-hour traffic on a busy road being more expensive.
But this change is not currently possible in London as ‘the technology is not there’
However, cameras introduced as part of the ULEZ expansion could be used to monitor the distances drivers travel, where they are travelling and the level of emissions their vehicles emit – with fears drivers may be charged by the mile.
A van was snapped with ‘Stop ULEZ’ blasted on its bonnet as hundreds of activists campaigned in Trafalgar Square last month
Some protestors were armed with signs demanding for the Mayor of London to be sacked
Protestors took to the streets of London in February calling for the proposed ‘Khanage’ to be halted
In the crowds was Piers Corbyn (pictured) – brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
In February and March protestors have been taking to the streets of London, calling for the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone ‘Khanage’ to be halted.
Hundreds of activists have campaigned in Trafalgar Square amid backlash against the plans that will see Londoners paying £12.50 per day for driving polluting cars.
Among the crowds was Piers Corbyn – brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who held an information poster reading ‘BREAK Sadiq Khan!’, ‘Can’t pay! Won’t pay!’
Others were armed with signs demanding for the Mayor of London to be sacked, with children also spotted holding posters against the scheme.
The protests come as the city braces itself for the ULEZ to be extended as part of a mission to tackle climate change.