A bid to fight the expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) cost taxpayers £150,000 in each of five local authorities.

Harrow Council, alongside Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Surrey, launched a judicial review in February against Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend the £12.50 daily charge to include outer London boroughs.

The attempt failed when the High Court ruled in July that the mayor’s plan was “within his powers”.

It has now been revealed that the councils spent a total of £730,941 fighting the expansion - £230,941 in expenses and £500,000 in legal costs to Transport for London (TfL), meaning each council will pay £147,853.20.

Harrow Council leader Cllr Paul Osborn feels the cost “was justified” to protect residents during a cost-of-living crisis.

Prior to its implementation on August 29, Harrow Council claimed the changes would not make a difference to air quality and would disproportionately affect poorer people in the borough.

Sadiq Khan said the expansion would reduce emissions and improve air quality in the capital and called the judge’s ruling a “landmark decision”.

New analysis by the University of Bath shows that the introduction of the first LEZ and ULEZ zones in London 15 years ago has significantly improved air quality. They found that the schemes have both health and economic benefits but said more was needed to be done to limit the impact on poorer drivers.

Data from a report by City Hall suggests that from August 29 to September 30, the expansion generated £23.6 million from 57,200 drivers paying the daily charge, according to analysis by the BBC. The same report shows ULEZ compliant vehicles make up 95 per cent of those in both inner and outer London.

Times Series: Harrow Council leader Cllr Paul Osborn

Cllr Osborn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “We continue to oppose the Mayor’s money-grabbing ULEZ expansion. The supposed justification for this expansion is questionable given the accusations that senior staff for the Mayor’s Office leaned on scientists to give more favourable statements on the merits of the expansion.”

He added: “To get as far as we did, where the Judge decided that there was a case for the Mayor to answer, shows that we had a reasonable chance of success to justify proceeding with the Judicial Review. 

“Given the Mayor’s ULEZ expansion has already squeezed at least £23.6m from over 57,000 of outer London’s poorest motorists, we feel this cost was justified in trying to protect our residents from this unnecessary tax in the middle of a cost of living crisis.”

Leader of the Harrow Labour Group, Cllr David Perry, said he was not provided with the full legal advice on the issue prior to the leadership deciding to “press ahead" with legal action and suggested the Conservatives “have something to hide”.

He added: “I suspect the council were well aware of the strong likelihood of losing a legal challenge and so it is very disappointing that at a time when we are cutting the social carers supporting vulnerable residents and the fly-tipping enforcement team to name a few, the Conservatives choose politics over the needs of the borough. 

“I have always been in support of improving air quality and have publicly raised the challenges with the ULEZ scheme, however I can only assume the fact that vital legal information [was withheld from me] at the time [means] the Conservatives clearly have something to hide from the residents of Harrow."