London City Hall condemns explosion that damaged clean air zone camera

LONDON (Reuters) – London’s City Hall said on Friday that an explosion which damaged a camera used to enforce the British capital’s clean air zone was a “reckless act” that could have led to fatalities.

The expansion of the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in August has been contentious, and hundreds of cameras used to check on vehicles have been vandalised by opponents of the scheme.

London’s Metropolitan Police said specialist officers were investigating the incident, which took place in Sidcup, a suburb in southeast London, on Wednesday at 1845 GMT, and is being treated a deliberate act.

“This grotesquely irresponsible behaviour puts both lives and property at risk,” a spokesperson for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said. “Police are rightly investigating this dangerous and reckless act.”

The police said the camera, which had been installed earlier that day, had been cut down around 90 minutes before the explosion, which damaged it further.

Nearby vehicles and a residential property were also damaged in the blast, which police said appeared to have been caused by a “low-sophistication improvised explosive device”.

While counter-terrorism officers, including those with specialist expertise in explosives, are leading the investigation, police said the incident was not being treated as terrorism at this stage.

No one was injured in the incident, the police added.

Khan has said ULEZ is needed to reduce deaths from illnesses linked to air pollution and fight climate change. Opponents argue the 12.50 pound ($15.73) daily charge on the thousands who drive older, more polluting vehicles, is unfair during a cost-of-living crisis and will cause economic damage.

($1 = 0.7948 pounds)

(Reporting by William Schomberg, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)