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£15m, or 39%, of Clean Air Fund support earmarked for taxi drivers

Published: 23rd Apr 2019

Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, explains why the city council has earmarked 39% of its Clean Air Fund support from government for taxi drivers

I’m aware of the concerns of how the Clean Air Zone will affect Hackney carriage and private hire drivers.

As I’ve said on many occasions, I totally understand that the introduction of the CAZ will have an impact on anyone driving a vehicle that does not meet modern emission standards, and I get the drivers’ concerns.

My late father was a driver in Birmingham, I have a lot of family and friends who are drivers and I’ve in the past represented the taxi trade as a trade union official - I understand this will be challenging and that’s why we worked very hard to get £15m from government to support drivers through the change.

This money the city council has earmarked for Hackney carriage and private hire drivers is a huge 39 per cent of the £38m we are getting from the Government’s Clean Air Fund to support a package of mitigation measures to help businesses and individuals likely to be impacted.

This is a really important message to get across as people need to know the facts of what we are doing. We also consulted with the general public and the taxi and private hire trade to prepare licensing policies in readiness for the Clean Air Zone and, as a result of feedback received from almost 1,400 individuals and organisations, made a number of changes to our proposals.

So here are some useful facts and figures:

Of the £38m awarded to the council from the Clean Air Fund, the following is allocated to Hackney carriage and private hire drivers as follows:

  • £5 million for a Hackney carriage support package
  • £2.75 million for a council-run Hackney carriage leasing scheme
  • £7 million for a private hire vehicle upgrade package

This covers:

Hackney Carriage

£5,000 towards the running costs for Hackney carriage driver buying a new ULEV vehicle or

£5,000 towards the cost of an approved CVRAS retrofit solution for a Hackney carriage,

a leasing/try before you buy scheme for Hackney carriage drivers with a fleet of up to 50 council owned ULEV vehicles

Private Hire

for private hire drivers either £2,500 towards the running costs of a ULEV that is eligible for the Government’s plug in car grant or

£2,000 towards the purchase price or lease of a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) or ULEV that is not eligible for the plug in car grant or

£1,000 towards the purchase or lease of a petrol or diesel CAZ compliant vehicle.

Changes to the policy agreed at Licensing and Public Protection Committee on 10 April 2019 include:

Removal of the Euro 4 and Euro 6 emission standard for taxi and private hire vehicles that would have taken effect on 1 January 2020 and replacing it with a strict vehicle age policy, increasing the age limit of Hackney carriages from 14 to 15 years and private hire vehicles from 8 to 12 years.

  • Any Hackney carriage that is suitable for an LPG conversion can be converted under a CVRAS scheme regardless of its age (we would not apply the 14-year age limit that was envisaged in our draft policy), provided that its physical condition is structurally sound and it will last until December 2025. Once a vehicle passes 15 years old it would be subject to two MOTs a year and an exceptional condition test.
  • Removal of the proposal to require all vehicles to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) from 2026 and replace it with a requirement that from 1 January 2021 any new vehicle which applies for a licence must be ULEV (with an exemption for accident write-offs to enable a driver to replace a vehicle on a like for like basis so that they do not have to buy a ULEV vehicle if their vehicle is written off after 1 January 2021).
  • Drivers who book a retrofit before 1 January 2020 but cannot be accommodated by a retrofitting centre until after that date will be exempt from the Clean Air Zone charge until that work can be carried out.

LPG retrofits

  • Hackney carriages will be able to be retrofitted by any CVRAS approved suppliers in the UK with a CVRAS approved retrofit solution.
  • CVRAS is a Government scheme to ensure LPG retrofits meet the required Clean Air Zone standards; therefore these suppliers are authorised by the Government and NOT Birmingham City Council.
  • While there is currently only one authorised supplier in the Midlands on the CVRAS system, the market is expected to develop over the coming months.

Electric charging points

Birmingham has been awarded funding by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to install 197 EV charging points in approximately 80 locations for the exclusive use of electric and hybrid taxis and private hire vehicles. These charging facilities are planned in the city centre, at Tyseley Energy Park and at a number of locations around the outer circle. The new charging points should be available by December 2019.