ULEZ monitoring equipment vandalised in Chiswick

Images above: ULEZ cameras on Milnthrope Road and Park Road with their wires cut

Eight cameras broken by “Blade Runners” vandals

A group calling themselves the “Blade Runners” has significantly disrupted enforcement of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Chiswick by cutting the cables of eight cameras used to monitor non-compliant vehicles. The group has claimed responsibility for the act on TikTok, where they boast of having 100 members across the country.

Images shared on social media show the vandalism, with the wires at the back of the cameras deliberately cut. Cables were cut on Eastbourne Road, Milnthorpe Road, Park Road, Devonshire Road, Dorchester Grove, Church Street, Burlington Lane, and Palladian Gardens.

Chiswick is equipped with a higher number of ULEZ cameras than most areas due to the exclusion of the section of the A4 between Chiswick Roundabout and Hogarth Roundabout. This exclusion creates additional entry points to the ULEZ, making monitoring crucial for maintaining air quality standards in the area.

The cameras use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to identify and levy charges on non-compliant vehicles.

Despite a recent unsuccessful challenge in the High Court against the expansion of the ULEZ to the M25 on August 29, the Blade Runners remain determined to halt the expansion of ULEZ one way or another. The group similarly vandalised cameras in Chiswick in April, leading to two men being arrested. There have been 96 reported incidents of camera damage in the London area alone this year.

Image above: Trashed ULEZ cameras; via Twitter

“It’s a way to try to… restrict our movements”, says self-proclaimed Blade Runners member

A self-proclaimed member of the Blade Runners gave an interview to Mail Online, donning a balaclava to conceal his identity. He claimed responsibility for personally removing 34 ANPR devices, while the group as a whole has disabled or taken down hundreds more.

“In terms of damage, it’s way more than what [Sadiq Khan and TfL] have stated. It’s at least a couple of hundred,” the masked man said. He added:

“Snipping, damaging with hammers, painting, disabling on a circuit level, and removing. They are unbolted and they are snipped. The tools they use to install them are the ones we use to remove it. We don’t want this. It’s a way to try to… restrict our movements.”

Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police have urged the public to report any suspicious activities related to the ULEZ cameras and vowed to take swift action against those involved in the vandalism.

Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing to explore additional measures to safeguard the ULEZ infrastructure and maintain its efficacy in combating air pollution in the city.

Image above: ULEZ expansion map

“Vandalism on our network is unacceptable”, says TfL

A spokesperson for TfL said:

‘Vandalism on our network is unacceptable. All incidents are reported to the police for investigation.’

The Mayor of London remains committed to expanding the scheme despite reservations about it within his own party following Labour’s defeat at the Uxbridge by-election. He said:

“We know every day that there are people dying prematurely. There are children with stunted lungs because of air pollution, adults with a whole load of health issues. So we’re going to carry on doing what we can to support Londoners [with the expansion].

“But the reality is that actually 95 per cent of Londoners who drive a car in inner London have a compliant vehicle. In outer London, it’s around 90 per cent. Clearly, we need to make sure that more Londoners with non-compliant vehicles have the support they need.’