On Tuesday, Londoners protested against the expansion of the city’s environmental zone. The discontent also manifested itself in the theft or smashing of several surveillance cameras that record gasoline and diesel cars and issue fines.
Since 2019, London has had an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), where owners of older vehicles are forced to pay penalties to drive in the area. Earlier this year, Mayor Sadiq Khan said the zone would be expanded to cover almost the entire city, arguing that air pollution was making citizens sick. The low emission zone includes special cameras that use technology to automatically identify license plates.
Already last spring, citizens started protesting against the increase in mass surveillance by sabotaging several cameras. Now, since Tuesday, London has expanded the environmental zone and protests against the mayor’s decision have once again flared up. Several cameras have also been destroyed, something that the activist group “Blade Runners” has claimed responsibility for.
Since August 1 this year, 185 cameras have been destroyed and 164 have disappeared.
– The cameras will continue to come down, predicts Nick Arlett, who has been organizing protests through Action Against Ulez, according to ABC News. People are angry.
The penalties apply to most petrol cars and vans built before 2006 and to diesel cars built before 2015, and cost £12.5 per day. Although the Mayor claims that “five million Londoners will breathe fresher air”, critics argue that this is an economic rather than an environmental issue. Most people in the city say they cannot afford to change their car, or can do without, in order to avoid the penalties.
– I have no money to pay the fees, I have no money to replace my car, said Austen, one of the protesters.
According to the BBC, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is not entirely on board with the extended green zone and London’s penalty charges. He says it is “not the right time” to impose these costs on citizens, many of whom are already struggling financially.