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23 Dec, 2023 21:58

London mayor relents on giving scrap cars to Ukraine

Sadiq Khan has changed his mind amid political pressure regarding a request from Kiev’s Vitaly Klitschko
London mayor relents on giving scrap cars to Ukraine

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has dropped his refusal to send four-wheel-drive cars and trucks to Ukraine, saying he now supports the idea of giving vehicles to Kiev that would otherwise be scrapped under an environmental program.

Khan revealed his change of course in a letter this week to UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper. The mayor and former UK defense chief Ben Wallace penned the letter, requesting national rules changes enabling Londoners to “donate suitable vehicles to Ukraine through scrappage schemes.”

The move comes one week after Khan rebuffed a September request from Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, saying that giving scrapped vehicles to Ukraine would not benefit London residents in environmental, economic, and social terms. The issue stems from a program under which drivers are paid by the local government to retire vehicles that don’t meet standards for ultra-low emissions (ULEV). Those who refuse to give up their polluting cars are charged a daily fee to drive in the city. 

Khan had faced political pressure and criticism in the media for his earlier stance. Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called his refusal to support the scheme “petty and ridiculous.” UK housing chief Michael Gove said he was “extremely disappointed” by the mayor’s decision, and he vowed to intervene in the situation if necessary. “As the war in Ukraine is now well into its second year, I am keen to use every lever at our disposal to offer steadfast, meaningful support to its courageous people.”

The UK has been among the most enthusiastic Western benefactors in helping to fund Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia. Klitschko argued that instead of being destroyed, the vehicles could be used in a “variety of life-saving and transport roles” in Ukraine.

Harper reportedly replied to the letter from Khan and Wallace by saying he was surprised it had taken so long for the mayor to request the regulatory revisions, given that the scrapping program had been operating since August. He added that he would support any available options to resolve the issue.

Nearly 700,000 vehicles in Greater London fail to meet ULEV standards and therefore must be retired or taxed under the new scrapping program, according to research by roadside-assistance service RAC.

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