Taxi organisations unite to work on response to “unacceptable” new proposals put forward by Heathrow
London’s taxi trade organisations are thrashing out a plan to oppose the controversial decision by Heathrow to charge drivers a £15 airport access fee. The Heathrow Trade Group, which included members of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), Unite, RMT, London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC) and the United Cabbies Group (UCG), met for talks at Taxi House to work on a joint response on “unacceptable” proposals put forward to cabbies by the airport.
The airport unveiled its controversial plans to reduce the impact a third runway will have on pollution in the area when it is opened in 2026. It follows years of debate and a series of investigations, with the Government finally approving plans to the build, northwest of the existing two. Officials have shown their intent to bring in an access charge of between £10 and £15, and creating a closed shop with no new drivers allowed tags to access the Feeder Park unless another leaves. Taxis will be exempt from the incoming Heathrow Ultra Low Emission Zone (HULEZ) for the time being, but this will only remain in place until the runway opens. Then it will give way to the proposed Heathrow Access Charge (HAC) from which the trade – nor private hire – will not be exempt. From that date, taxi journeys will be £10-15 more than they are currently, although some discounts will be available for drivers who drop off and pick up at the same time, which the LTDA claim is easier for minicab firms to organise. Following the announcement, the LTDA sent an invite to all the trade orgs, asking them to come to Taxi House so that a draft response could be drawn up. Writing in the last edition of TAXI, LTDA committee member Paul Brennan said the plans were “completely unacceptable”. The two-mile runway would cost around £14 billion to build and involve the loss of more than 2,200 acres of open land, including more than 1,000 acres of greenbelt.
The HULEZ-style charge scheme at the airport could also see drivers of cars and minicabs charged between £10-15 for accessing the airport from 2022. Other proposals revealed today include a realignment of the M25 so that it passes through a new tunnel under the runway. Heathrow Airport is already covered by the London Low Emission Zone, so only vehicles not subject to that levy will have to pay.