Rise of the ULEZ ‘Blade Runners’: The underground activists who’ve vowed to stop at nothing until they’ve ‘taken down EVERY one of Sadiq Khan’s low-emission cameras’
- EXCLUSIVE: Secretive army vandalises and steals Sadiq Khan’s Ulez cameras
- MailOnline spoke to an elusive balaclava-clad ‘Blade Runner’ taking on Ulez
A secret activist army is vandalising and stealing Sadiq Khan’s hated Ulez cameras.
Dubbed the ‘Blade Runners’, the covert group has been attacking ANPR cameras that catch out drivers using high-polluting vehicles across the capital.
The London Mayor’s controversial scheme will force Londoners to pay £12.50-a-day to drive in Greater London from August 29, if their cars don’t meet certain environmental standards.
One of the secretive Blade Runners, who met with MailOnline, vowed: ‘We are going to take down every single one no matter what’.
Dressed in a balaclava to protect his identity, the father in his mid-forties revealed he had stolen 34 Ulez cameras himself but his group and others like them have taken down hundreds.
A secret army is vandalising and stealing Sadiq Khan’s Ulez cameras. Two of the ‘Blade Runners’ showed MailOnline some of the cameras they had taken down
The secretive group works whenever it can to remove the cameras from the streets of London
One of the Blade Runners showed off his haul of Ulez cameras, triumphantly stepping on one of the controversial car snappers
The Blade Runners vowed to take down every single Ulez camera in the capital in a bid to rid the capital of Sadiq Khan’s scheme
The covert group has been attacking ANPR cameras that catch out drivers using high-polluting vehicles across the capital
He told MailOnline: ‘In terms of damage it’s way more than what [Khan and TfL] have stated. It’s at least a couple of hundred.
‘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.
‘F*** them. It will not happen because we haven’t done anything to deserve it.’
Sadiq Khan has claimed the police take vandalism of Ulez cameras ‘very seriously’.
Transport for London (TfL) said vandalism was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘all incidents are reported to the police for investigation’.
However, when approached by MailOnline, the Met Police said there was ‘no trace’ they had ever investigated Ulez cameras being damaged or stolen.
The force said it had never heard of it happening before.
A Met Police spokesman added: ‘Obviously there’s potential for the potential offences to be investigated as, for instance, criminal damage or theft.’
That means if the Met ever did investigate one of the incidents and a Blade Runner was found guilty of criminal damage, they could land themselves in jail for up to four years.
Yet the Blade Runner speaking to MailOnline said although he could face prosecution, the ’cause’ was ‘worth fighting’ for.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ulez scheme has been splitting communities in two and costing struggling families thousands of pounds.
Hard-up Londoners have told MailOnline they have already had to shell out huge sums to buy new cars that comply with the money-spinning Ultra Low Emission Zone, and they fear they are being priced out of the capital.
In some areas of the city, the Ulez will force parents who can’t afford to buy new motors to pay the £12.50 charge to drive their children to school. While pensioners fear being left stranded and unable to see their GP located inside the penalty zone.
Neighbours living just yards apart on opposite sides of the clean air zone face starkly different fates, with some saying they will be slapped with a charge for simply leaving their homes, while those living a stone’s throw away are unaffected.
The revelation comes ahead of Mr Khan expanding the clean air zone to Greater London this year, encompassing five million more people – in a move that will create a headache for at least 200,000 people who own non-compliant vehicles.
One of the Blade Runners also brought along a long snipping instrument he uses to cut the cameras’ wires
One of the secretive Blade Runners told MailOnline: ‘We will fight with everything we have for our freedoms’
He said there were more than 100 blade runners in his group and that number was ‘increasing’, with people covering different areas across London
He added: ‘There are 24 hours in a day. We either fight it or accept it. We do whatever we can’
This Ulez camera’s days of spotting highly-polluting cars in London is over after it met its end at the hands of a Blade Runner
The Blade Runner told MailOnline: ‘Everything we are doing is for our own freedoms.
‘It’s the tip of the iceberg. We do not live in a democracy.
‘We will fight with everything we have for our freedoms.’
The Mayor’s office said there were 43 instances of vandalism or theft to ULEZ cameras as of March 21, 2023.
It said because of ‘commercial and confidentiality reasons’ TfL would not share how much each camera costs or how much repairs would be.
Small businesses have slammed the Ulez expansion and even charities have said they might be forced off the roads because of it.
It is the latest traffic plan to plague the capital after years of low-traffic neighbourhoods and an onslaught of hardly-used cycle lanes have laid siege to motorists.
The Labour Mayor has even forced Londoners to dice with death by creating cycle highways and ‘floating’ bus stops.
Earlier this month, MailOnline revealed that selfish bikers had been caught on camera repeatedly ignoring pedestrians at one of London’s many ‘dangerous’ floating bus stops, which force passengers to take a ‘leap of faith’ through a cycle highway.
Footage shows riders of bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters refusing to stop as pedestrians try to board and alight buses, which are separated from the stop by a cycle lane – and campaigners have hit out at their reckless behaviour.
The Blade Runner has kept a haul of the cameras that he has removed from the pavements of the capital
He said: ‘What we will achieve by our actions is the removal of the infrastructure and waking up the sleeping masses to what is really going on’
A video shared on TikTok showed how another of the cameras had been smashed on the ground
People have also taken to putting bags over the controversial cameras in an effort to stop them working
Others have snipped the cameras’ wires so it can’t work, as Londoners join together in the fight against Ulez
The Blade Runner speaking to MailOnline said there were more than 100 blade runners in his group and that number was ‘increasing’, with people covering different areas across London.
He said they mainly targeted the Ulez expansion area but also attacked the existing system too.
When he removes one of the Ulez cameras, he said he gets ‘a feeling of purpose’.
He added: ‘There are 24 hours in a day. We either fight it or accept it. We do whatever we can.
‘What we will achieve by our actions is the removal of the infrastructure and waking up the sleeping masses to what is really going on.’
TfL has been spending between £60million and £75million on Ulez cameras and signs.
The budget for the controversial expansion is between £130million and £140million.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: ‘It is deeply disappointing to see opposition to a policy being used as an excuse for criminal damage.
‘This petty vandalism of London’s essential transport infrastructure is completely unacceptable.’
A Blade Runner from another group of activists targeting Ulez cameras told MailOnline: ‘If they change the system of fixing cameras this will not matter.
‘They are dismantled, submerged in water and thrown away.
‘We are equipped to cut metal [and] take out security screws.
‘Whatever they do the cameras will keep coming down.’
The science of how air pollution affects people’s health, especially in children, is clear.
Air pollution can lead to premature births and babies being born with smaller heads.
Tiny soot particles from diesel exhaust fumes can actually pass through a pregnant woman’s lungs and the placenta into the foetus.
The controversial scheme is set to force Londoners to pay an incredible £12.50-a-day to drive in the capital from August 29, if their cars don’t meet certain environmental standards
Just last week at least half a dozen charities revealed ULEZ and its lacking scrappage scheme mean they will have to shut down their services
Dogs on the Streets, which provides vital healthcare services for dogs with homeless or vulnerable owners, said it would have to give up its delivery address in Enfield because of Sadiq Khan’s (pictured) ULEZ charge
Over a lifetime, pollution including car exhaust fumes can slow lung development, cause or worsen asthma and cause heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes.
A top ‘cradle to grave’ report by the Royal College of Physicians found that air pollution, including from car exhausts, can suppress lung function.
The report said: ‘Lung function naturally develops throughout childhood, and there is clear evidence that long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution suppresses this process.
‘It may speed up the decline of lung function through adulthood and into older age.
‘There is also good evidence that outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer.
‘It is likely that long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to the development of asthma.
READ MORE: How Sadiq Khan is helping to drive up the cost of second-hand cars: Prices of ULEZ-friendly motors has more than doubled ahead of low-emission zone expansion across London
‘For people who already have asthma, there’s strong evidence that air pollution can make it worse.
‘It’s possible that exposure to air pollution could be associated with the appearance of diabetes and may also damage the brain’s thinking abilities (cognition) in subtle ways that build up over time.’
Clean Air in London boss Simon Birkett said: ‘The ULEZ has successfully reduced concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic air pollutant, along roadsides where many of the most vulnerable people live.
‘As an anti-pollution measure, it has also been highly successful at warning Londoners about the dangers of carcinogenic diesel fumes such that only 7,595 diesel cars were registered for the first time in the whole of Greater London in 2021 – a city with a population of over eight million people.’
In the last four years in London, 15,432 people have died whose deaths were attributable to man-made fine particulate matter from air pollution, according to Clean Air in London.
Across England for the same timeframe, that number is 125,000.
Even so, some anti-Ulez campaigners don’t think London has an air quality problem.
One, who denied he was a Blade Runner and instead called himself a freedom fighter, said he thought a judicial review into the Ulez expansion was a ‘smoke screen’ and would not rid London of Ulez.
He told MailOnline: ‘It’s absolute control. If you look in the dictionary for sociopath, you will find a picture of Khan. The man can’t stop lying.
‘We do not have an air quality problem.
‘I would applaud every person that takes a single bit down.
‘Old white people who have never been involved are incensed to mess the place up.
‘They want to rip the system down. People in this country have had enough. If we just roll over, our lives are gone.
Over a lifetime, pollution including car exhaust fumes can slow lung development, cause or worsen asthma and cause heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes. Pictured: The report showed how foetuses, babies and children can develop issues because of air pollution
As an adult or an older person, air pollution can cause heart attacks, asthma, and even lung cancer
‘There are millions like me who won’t take this s*** anymore.
‘We will fight. Leave me the f*** alone, just let me get on with my life. I don’t want to be controlled.
‘The majority are against this but they still won’t listen.
‘The scrappage scheme is a joke. Most people can’t even get it and the hoops you have to go through to get it are ridiculous.
‘The whole thing is a lie from start to finish.’
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, said: ‘People are of course entitled to show their opposition to policies peacefully and lawfully. But causing criminal damage is never acceptable.’
READ MORE: Are these Britain’s most dangerous cycle lanes? Video shows bikers weaving past wheelchair-user and blind man at controversial ‘floating bus stops’ that force pedestrians into path of bikes
Meanwhile, Susan Hall, the Conservatives’ City Hall leader, said: ‘Sadiq Khan is wrong to put up cameras and impose his Ulez tax against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Londoners. But vandalising cameras and breaking the law is completely unacceptable.’
Tens of thousands of people have also banded together online to find and in some cases destroy the cameras being installed on their streets.
One anti-Ulez Facebook group has more than 31,000 members. Many use the group to pinpoint Ulez cameras and call for their wires to be ‘pruned’ or ‘snipped’.
Another group with around 4,000 members has compiled a map of more than 1,300 Ulez camera locations.
Members said they needed to fight for their right to drive or face their livelihoods being decimated.
One of the group’s members said: ‘This whole saga is not about who or when [people removing cameras] are doing this and none of us condone such behaviour.
‘There is a much bigger issue at stake here.
‘It’s about the illegality of our mayor. It is about the lies he has told.
‘It is about the fact that people’s livelihoods and small businesses will be destroyed.
‘It is about those people who cannot afford the charge or a new car in an economy where escalating costs are already crippling families, even before this abhorrent charge comes into force.
‘I don’t know of anyone who supports this.’
Another said: ‘No one is committing any crime removing these money-making cameras.
‘We the public have paid for them. We own them.’
A third added: ‘This is being done out of necessity because the tyrants that currently rule over us are taking the p***.
‘We are only governed by consent. It’s about time we took back the power to the people.’
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