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Glasgow taxi operators seek last-minute reprieve from LEZ regulations or lose 350 black cabs


Image credit: Glasgow Taxis

Glasgow Taxis, representing the city's cab operators, has urgently approached Glasgow City Council, requesting a delay in the enforcement of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) rules to prevent the loss of approximately 350 taxis by 1 June 2024.


In a critical move, Glasgow Taxis has issued a plea to Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, and all city councillors. Their letter proposes a temporary measure allowing taxi operators who are not yet compliant with the city’s LEZ to "offset emissions" until they meet the standards, expected within the next year.

The correspondence highlights the impending deadline and the potential fallout: around 350 taxis, each a small independent business, face being forced out of business due to the LEZ regulations kicking in next month. The city’s taxi operator pointed out the significant strides made by the trade in recent years towards improving air quality and argued that it would be unreasonable for the council to let these businesses vanish overnight.


Glasgow Taxis clarified that while most operators are on a path to full LEZ compliance, achieving this in the next two weeks is unfeasible. They equated the emissions from the non-compliant taxis over the next year to those of just two transatlantic flights, questioning whether this could justify the substantial loss of local businesses.


The letter ended with a firm request for the City Council to use its powers to allow these taxi operators to continue operating beyond the 1 June deadline. This would enable them to serve the city’s needs while transitioning to compliant vehicles over the coming year. They also suggested that these businesses be permitted to offset their emissions, as is the case with several larger organisations operating in Glasgow.


Dougie McPherson, Chairman of Glasgow Taxis, emphasised the urgency of the situation, expressing a desire for swift dialogue with the council.

The full open letter sent by McPherson to Aitken, said:

 

Dear Councillor Aitken,


Low Emission Zone | Public Hire Taxis – 1 June 2024


Request to Offset Emissions

As you are aware, Glasgow is set lose around 350 public hire operators on the 1 June 2024 with the application of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) – each one being a small Glasgow business.


Given the huge steps taken by the taxi trade in Glasgow in recent years, we believe it would be folly for the City Council to allow these businesses and the many livelihoods they support to simply disappear overnight in the context of actual improvement to air quality in the City Centre. 


The context is the emissions of these taxis for a year equates to 2 transatlantic flights!

Glasgow Taxis contends that these jobs are worth protecting, particularly as the majority of the remaining non-LEZ compliant operators will be able to successfully transition to full compliance within the year.  Our proposition being that, if necessary, such emissions can be offset as per many other large businesses in the City.


New Vehicle Choice

There still remains only one new compliant vehicle on the market, The London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC). 


We note that Allied Vehicles in Glasgow has indicated the arrival of new LEZ complaint vehicle options later this year.


Conversion of existing Vehicles

The limitation of availability of new or second hand compliant vehicles has led to many taxi operators seeking conversion systems, both for Liquid Petroleum Gas and Exhaust Retrofits.


Conversion to Liquid Petroleum Gas

Traditional London Taxi International (LTI), TX model cabs are capable of Euro VI compliance through the conversion of the diesel engine to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and petrol.


Currently, in Glasgow, there is no available supplier to carry out the LPG conversion (although one is now available in Edinburgh). Glasgow Taxis understand there remains around 100 vehicles either in the process or awaiting a date to commence installation. These are confirmed orders with deposits paid.


In terms of compliance support, Transport Scotland via the Energy Savings Trust (EST) originally offered a grant of 80% of the total cost of the LPG conversion, but this has recently been reduced to 66% of the total cost. 

The current operator contribution to this solution has therefore increased from £6,000.

 

Grant – Retrofit Exhaust System

A similar model was applied to any Euro V vehicle, which could be converted to Euro VI with a retrofitted exhaust system.  Again, there was originally available funding by Transport Scotland via the EST, with around an 80% grant of total cost.


The exhaust Retro-Fit solution is engineered and supplied by Cybrand AEC Ltd. Glasgow Taxis understands that Cybrand currently have a significant number of vehicles either in the process or awaiting a date to commence installation.  These are confirmed orders with deposits paid.  In addition, they have numerous vehicles, where they have issued quotes but not yet received a deposit. These exact number are changing on a weekly basis.

The operator contribution for this solution has doubled following several increases to now £3,154.


Our Ask

The vast majority of the taxi operators in Glasgow support of the Council’s commitment to improving air quality.  Most operators now have an identified pathway to full LEZ compliance but, for many, it will simply not be achievable over the next 2 week(s).


As stated, the emissions of all such vehicles over the next 12 months is the equivalent to 2 transatlantic flights! 


Without any attempt to belittling the wider environmental considerations, and Glasgow’s role in improving its own air quality, surely the City Council agrees with our contention that this cannot be allowed as the justification for the loss of 350 viable small Glasgow businesses.


Glasgow Taxis asks that Glasgow City Council uses the powers available to allow those taxis operators to continue to trade beyond 1 June 2024, and moreover to continue to serve the needs to the City, as the vehicles and solutions become available over the coming year – and, where deemed necessary, to allow such small businesses to offset their emissions as per many other larger UK and international companies operating in Glasgow.


I appreciate this request is time critical and therefore would welcome urgent dialogue with you.


I look forward to your response. 

 

Dougie McPherson

Chairman, Glasgow Taxis Ltd

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