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Tories pledge to stop Ulez pollution charges and 20mph zones

A new law to scrap the expansion of low vehicle emission zones in London, block blanket and low-traffic neighbourhoods, will be introduced by a future Conservative government.

Rishi Sunak has promised to bring in a new Backing Drivers Bill in the first King’s Speech should the Tories pull off an unlikely victory in the forthcoming general election.

Under the proposed legislation, the Tories say they will stop the introduction of pay-per-mile road taxes, rule out blanket LTNs and 20mph zones and reverse London’s ultra low emissions zone expansion.

The Prime Minister hopes the promise of a new law explicitly supporting motorists will appeal to voters, particularly those on the fringes of London where the issue of the Ulez expansion has become a major political battleground.

The Tories latched onto the pro-motorist approach after it was successful in keeping hold of Boris Johnson’s former seat in the Uxbridge and West Ruislip by-election in July last year.

But there are likely to be doubts among Tories, however, over how successful such an offer will be to the electorate, given a similar campaign was led by the Conservatives London mayoral candidate Susan Hall and failed.

The proposal to block pay-per-mile taxation on drivers is also likely to leave many civil servants bemused, particularly as Mr Sunak was actively considering the policy during his time as chancellor in 2020.

Experts and officials believe such a tax is likely to be needed in the future as more people switch to electric vehicles and revenues from fuel duty and vehicle excise dry up. Labour has said it has no plans to introduce such a policy.

Announcing the plan, Mr Sunak said: “We are the party on the side of drivers. That’s why we have a clear plan to keep motoring costs under control and ensure people have the freedom to drive as they need to lead their daily lives.

“We will empower drivers and local residents to challenge aggressive and punitive traffic-inducing measures, like low traffic neighbourhoods that were imposed without local consent.”

The Tories latched onto the pro-motorist approach after it was successful in keeping hold of Boris Johnson’s former seat in the Uxbridge and West Ruislip by-election.

The proposed law to block blanket 20mph zones will also apply to Wales, where the Welsh government introduced the new speed limit in residential roads across the country.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We will continue to build on our clear plan for drivers and make sure they are supported in the face of Labour politicians desperate to tax them off the roads.

“We will reverse Sadiq Khan’s unfair Ulez expansion and rule out any blanket 20 mile an hour zones because we are on drivers’ side. And we will rule out any pay-per-mile road tax to keep costs for drivers down.”

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