A petrol tank driver claims he will have to shell out more than £600 a month to get to work if the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is rolled out in South London.

The Sutton resident of 23 years said he has to drive to a depot in Essex, through three counties, and his job starts at unsociable hours not served by public transport.

Speaking at an emotive Sutton Council, meeting attended by more than 70 residents, on Monday (April 24).

He said: “I work long 14-hour shifts that start at unsocial times, my day shifts start at 4am and the night shifts at 4pm.

“I drive 50 miles each way to the terminal in Essex, there is no public transport to get me across three counties at such unsociable hours.

"I currently pay £300 per month for fuel and Dartford crossing fees, if ULEZ comes in this will rise to more than £600 a month.”

Councillors also heard from carers who will struggle to do their job, residents who are worried their parents will no longer be able to visit their grandchildren and disabled people who say they cannot afford the charge or a new car. 

More than 30 people took the opportunity to tell the authority what they think of the planned expansion which see the most polluting cars charged £12.50 a day to drive.

All but one of the residents that got up to speak were opposed to the expansion. 

Around 70 people packed into the public gallery of the meeting which took place at Sutton Library on Monday night (April 24).

The one local who did speak in favour of the scheme, was heckled by other residents when he said: “I believe ULEZ is the best chance we have to reduce pollution.”

The man said he lives in Hackbridge between a busy road and the incinerator where “sometimes the pollution can be tasted in the air.”

The man added: “The presence of respiratory conditions in my family means that if things do not improve drastically Sutton may not be a safe place for us to live.”

After hearing from residents councillors from all sides had their chance to speak about the low-emission zone.

The debate closed with council leader Ruth Dombey who said: “The London Borough of Sutton has spoken and it has spoken with one voice.

“We have heard compelling reasons why the ULEZ charge is unfair, we have heard so many examples of the hardship it will cause and how it will impact unfairly on people on low incomes.”

The Liberal Democrat leader announced that the council would present a petition to City Hall.

One of the attendees Peter Smorthit told the Local Democracy Reporting Service why he came down to the meeting.

The wheelchair user drives an adapted vehicle which is not ULEZ-compliant.

He said: “There is a lot of opposition to it and it will affect so many people from elderly to tradespeople, it does not help anyone, it is greenwashing.

"At least they are giving us the time of day to discuss it, that is something I guess.”

This week, Christina Calderato, TfL’s director of strategy and policy said: “The London-wide ULEZ is vital in tackling the triple challenges of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion.

"The capital’s dirty air disproportionately affects the most vulnerable and results in thousands of premature deaths every year.

“The aim of the ULEZ is to help encourage people to make sustainable travel choices where possible. Sutton has a range of green and efficient travel options, with 90 per cent of residents within 400 metres of public transport and bus services operating at pre-pandemic levels.”