Updated: Feb 18
2023 sees more UK cities planning the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ). Private motorists will be required to pay a charge if they fancy a visit into any of the given city centres, but for taxi drivers and workers who travel in most days they have caused a financial headache for many so soon after the pandemic.
Drivers in London already face charges if they wish to enter the capital’s low and ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ). Five other English cities have already introduced clean air zones with at least three more due to start in the coming weeks and months.
Currently, drivers in Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol and Portsmouth all face potential charges based on the level of their emissions.
Tyneside has most recently introduced their CAZ on 30 January and Sheffield will soon follow suit on 27 February.
Greater Manchester is the third local authority set to introduce a clean air zone in 2023 although they have yet to agree on a date.
In Scotland there are four confirmed CAZ in operation or incoming soon; Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.
HOW DO THEY AFFECT TAXI DRIVERS?
It all depends on the CAZ and where the taxi is licensed. For example, all London taxis are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge, but strict new Zero- Emission Capable (ZEC) vehicle rules were agreed which will phase diesel black cabs out by 2030.
In other cities, taxi drivers will be made to pay the charge if their vehicles fall outside of acceptable emission levels.
In Sheffield’s version, private cars and motorbikes will not be charged. However, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), light goods vehicles (LGVs), vans, buses, coaches and taxis will be.
Hackney carriages licensed with Sheffield City Council will be given until 5 June 2023 before facing a charge of £10 per day to enter the city centre. A cabbie working 5 days a week for 45 weeks of the year will need to fork out a whopping £2,250 or invest in a new compliant cab during a cost-of-living crisis.
Aside from buying a new ZEC taxi, retrofitting existing cabs to meet Euro 6 compliance standards is seen as one way of future proofing a driver’s taxi. Using a fully approved retrofit conversion could not only save money on fees, but it will also ensure that the taxi is less harmful to the environment.
TX4 taxi owners have been waiting patiently for the kit to become available in London and other cities, after seeing the retrofit approved in other major UK cities like Birmingham and Glasgow.
The conversion is also available for Euro 5 Mercedes Vito and Peugeot E7 taxis. The price of the conversion starts at around £6,000 plus installation/extras and VAT. Some cities implementing CAZ are still offering grants available through local government, meaning the cost of the conversion can be considerably slashed.
The accreditation required to become exempt from emission zone fees within the LEZ or CAZ is known as Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) and is administered by the Energy Saving Trust.