Birmingham City Council will provide up to £15 million to support Hackney Carriage and private hire drivers over the next few years as the city looks to reduce emission levels.
The funds are to enable taxi drivers to upgrade their vehicles to more "environmentally friendly" friendly ones designed to help avoid the potential damage of the Clean Air Zone’s charges to their businesses.
The new initiative comes after the European Commission warned the city that a fine of £60 million could be implemented if the air pollution was not "significantly reduced" by 2020. As reported by Redbrick, the money will come from the funds granted by the Clean Air Fund to pay for mitigation measures.
The new Clean Air Zone, As part of the new clean air zone scheme, drivers of highly polluting vehicles will be forced to pay a fee any time they enter a specific area. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will be used to monitor which vehicles enter the zone.
Drivers of petrol cars manufactured before 2006 and diesel cars manufactured before 2015 will be charged £8 to drive in the zone. A much higher proposed charge of £50 for buses and HGVs will also go ahead. Birmingham City Council has pledged additional support for some people affected, saying: ‘If your vehicle is not CAZ compliant, and you have lived in the CAZ area since before September 2018, we are not planning to charge you to drive in the CAZ until January 2022, two years after the CAZ is introduced.’ As reported in TaxiPoint, taxi drivers in Birmingham have staged a number of go-slow protests against the council's proposals to make them comply with the new clean air zone.
The Rail and Maritime and Transport Union, which represents Hackney drivers, is claimed the council is ignored concerns abouts cost implications for drivers. 75 percent of the city's taxi fleet would be taken out of service under the new clean air regulations they claimed. Figures from the city council showed that only 72 of the 1,265 Hackney Carriages licensed to operate in the city would be compliant with the new emission standards being imposed by the pollution charge from January 2020.
Birmingham taxi drivers have said that the newly-approved scheme is a threat to their livelihood.