The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to setup a national taxi and private hire database to help councils enforce air quality zones.
The consultation, run jointly by DEFRA and the DfT, is seeking views on the implementation of a national taxi and private hire database to “distinguish private cars from taxis and PHVs.”
Stephen McCaffrey of Taxi Defence Barristers previously wrote about the legal implications of air quality zones for the taxi and private hire trade. In this consultation, the Government said: “In some cases, local authorities will implement Clean Air Zones that apply charges to taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) but not to private cars. In these circumstances, local authorities will need to be able to distinguish private cars from taxis and PHVs.”
Under the Government’s proposals, not only will there be a centralised database to enable the identification of all taxis and PHVs operating in England and Wales but licensing authorities will also be required to share this data is through the use of powers under the Environment Act 1995.
The effect of what the Government is proposing is that when a taxi or private hire car enters or drives within a charging Clean Air Zone, its VRN will be detected using an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera. This information will then be checked against the central taxi and PHV database which will interact with the wider charging infrastructure being developed for charging Clean Air Zones.
If the driver of the vehicle fails to pay the charge within the required timeframe the local authority operating the charging Clean Air Zone will then issue a penalty charge if appropriate to the vehicle’s registered keeper.
The taxi and private hire sector is strongly recommended to take the opportunity to respond to the consultation.