London’s cash-strapped fire brigade faces a monthly bill of £31,000 for driving into Sadiq Khan’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) according a new report drawn up for members of the capital’s fire authority.
The ULEZ is being introduced to encourage private motorists and fleet owners to replace older vehicles with cleaner models by hitting drivers with a daily fine if they enter central London.
In addition to private and commercial vehicles, the fine will also be levied on emergency services vehicles if they fail to meet the zone’s tough emissions standards.
Brigade managers have already put plans in place to upgrade their fleet by September 2020, the original start date of the ULEZ, but Mayor Khan is currently consulting on bringing the scheme forward to 2019.
According to the report, efforts are underway to secure an exemption for “non compliant” fire engines which enter the zone to respond to emergency incidents.
Authority members are being warned that, unless Mr Khan approves the exemption, the brigade could face a monthly fine of up to £31,000, further sapping its already under pressure budgets.
Without the requested exemption the brigade’s only other option to avoid paying to attend fires would be to accelerate its upgrade programme which could saddle the service with am upfront bill of £2.3 million.
Commenting on the figures, Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said: “It defies belief that Sadiq Khan would fine our fire engines for attending emergency incidents.
“These journeys are made to save people’s lives.
Mr Bacon, who headed the fire authority during the final years of Boris Johnson’s term as Mayor, said it was right the brigade should upgrade its fleet but said Kr Khan would be “unwise” to charge it while this work was underway.
He added: “In blocking requests for exemptions, the Mayor is blindly sticking to his guns despite common sense staring him in the face.
“London’s fire engines should not be fined for saving lives. End of story.”
Mr Khan’s office was asked to comment on the London Fire Brigade’s report but failed to provide a response.
However the London Labour Party did send the following statement: “It is absolute nonsense to suggest that London Fire engines – or any of London’s emergency service vehicles – will be fined for attending emergencies.
“This is yet another example of the Tories opposing plans to clean up the city’s filthy air and save lives, which are supported by environment and medical experts, business and Londoners.
“They should throw their weight behind tackling the city’s dangerous air pollution instead of deliberately misleading Londoners.
“The Mayor is pleased that the emergency services are showing leadership in cleaning up their fleets and taking bold steps towards becoming cleaner and greener.”