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Glasgow taxi reps call council decision to not extend LEZ exemption ‘pig-headed’ and ‘heartless’

Image credit: Ross Campbell

Taxi representatives in Glasgow have called the city’s decision to not further extend black cab exemptions from Low Emission Zone (LEZ) plans as ‘pig-headed’ and ‘heartless’.

After nearly two-years of low-demand during the coronavirus pandemic, there have been long-term worries from Glasgow’s taxi drivers that their fleet could be DECIMATED by around 1,000 black cabs.

Of the 1,420 taxis licensed by Glasgow City Council (GCC), around 1,000 do not meet strict new emissions criteria set for June 2023.

Unite Union Glasgow Cab Section had been calling for councillors to make black cabs exempt from the scheme until 2027 to allow the sector to recover sufficiently from the coronavirus pandemic. Union officials believe the measures announced this week by GCC do not go far enough to help the industry.

On Thursday the next set of plans for Glasgow's LEZ were signed and agreed to by the City Administration Committee.

GCC did amend plans slightly to reflect the impact of the pandemic on the uptake of the retrofitting scheme. Taxi operators who can demonstrate by early 2023 that they have applied for retrofitting grants, are awaiting vehicle conversion work or are in the process of purchasing a compliant vehicle will now be able to run their business without penalty should their taxi not yet be compliant by the time the LEZ becomes enforceable.

In response to the plans announced, a Unite Glasgow Cab Section spokesperson said via social media: “Still processing the decision yesterday (Thursday) to condemn a thousand plus jobs in Glasgow. At a time when we are facing record high fuel prices and cost of living going through the roof. Must rank as one of the most pig-headed and heartless decisions ever made in the city chambers.”

Glasgow's LEZ is seen as an essential measure to improve air quality, protect public health and support wider climate change ambitions by encouraging more sustainable transport options.

Phase 1 of Glasgow's LEZ was introduced in 2018 - with a much greater proportion of cleaner, low and zero emission buses now travelling through our city centre. Subject to Scottish Ministers approval, Phase 2 of Glasgow's LEZ will be implemented on 31 May 2022 and enforced from 1 June 2023 following a one-year grace period. Enforcement for zone residents' vehicles will start from 1 June 2024.

What will the Glasgow LEZ look like and how much will it cost?

Entry requirements for LEZs in Scotland have been set at national level for consistency. In general, diesel engine vehicles registered after September 2015 and petrol engine vehicles registered from 2006 onwards will usually meet the required emissions standards, as will buses, coaches and HGVs registered from January 2013.

Glasgow's LEZ will apply to all vehicle types, except for motorbikes and mopeds and those vehicle types or uses considered exempt - this would include emergency vehicles and vehicles for disabled persons, including blue badge holders.

Failing to comply with LEZ requirements will result in a penalty charge. This is set nationally at £60 and is reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days. Where repeat entry by the same vehicle is detected within a 90-day period, this penalty charge rate will double, doubling again on each subsequent entry up to a maximum amount determined by vehicle type.

Complementing the nationally set elements of LEZs in Scotland - the council has determined the design and operation of our own scheme based on local requirements.

Glasgow's LEZ will operate 24 hours a day - all year round, with the zone covering an area of the city centre bounded by the M8 motorway to the north and west, the River Clyde to the south and Saltmarket/High St to the east.

Will there be any support for motorists?

Assistance from the Scottish Government to help prepare for the introduction of LEZs has included vehicle retrofit support and money for lower income households and small businesses through the LEZ Support Fund. Interest-free loans are also available through the Energy Saving Trust for purchasing e-bikes, electric vehicles, and home charging points.


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