New Low Emissions Zone rules eased for Oxford taxi drivers


Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils have updated the emission standards for Hackney Carriage taxis in Oxford and the timeline for buses to be compliant in the Oxford Zero Emission Zone.


The updates have been made following feedback from the taxi trade and bus providers in Oxford about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their own businesses and wider industries, and the ability to comply with the timeline for the Zero Emission Zone.

In March both councils announced that the launch of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone will be postponed until summer 2021 - recognising that businesses and residents across the city, and particular in the Red Zone, need to focus their attention on managing the current and potential impacts on their trade and way of life during the coronavirus pandemic.

Buses and Oxford licensed Hackney Carriages taxis are not within the scope of the Red Zone because they have previously agreed timelines for moving towards zero emissions fleets – this update considers the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on these timelines and achieving zero emissions vehicles.


The emissions requirements, which began in January 2020 requires:

  • All renewal applications for Hackney Carriage taxis must meet the minimum Euro IV emission standard.

  • All new Hackney Carriage taxi applications must meet Euro IV, Euro VI, or ULEV emission standard – Euro V vehicles will not be considered.


However, during the coronavirus pandemic and the delay of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone, the City Council, which is the licensing authority, has updated its guidelines for Hackney Carriage taxi emission standards for applications that are being renewed.


Emissions standards - renewal applications


If drivers are unable to replace their existing vehicles with one that complies with current Euro IV emission standards, drivers may make a request in writing to the City Council for an emissions exemption when renewing their licence.


The written exemption request must be submitted together with the licence renewal application and all the required documents to renew the licence.


Licences for taxis can be issued for one year with an exemption due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Existing licenced Hackney Carriage Vehicles must be tested and receive a Certificate of Compliance within 28 days of the expiry of the licence – ODS’ test centre at Cowley Marsh Depot is open and is prioritising testing for all licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles.


Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “The City Council is committed to cleaning up harmful toxic air, so that everybody can enjoy their right to good health. At this time of pandemic, however, our focus must be on protecting all public health from a new  type of invisible harm. Locking down Oxford is helping to beat the virus, save lives, and protect our NHS. However, unfortunately, there are trade-offs, including slower economic growth and reduced bus use, so while Oxford absolutely will introduce our Zero Emission Zone, this council must adjust to the new reality forced upon us.


“It brings the council no joy to adjust the timeline for the Low Emission Zone for buses and cleaner emission requirements for taxis after so many years of discussions to reach decisions. Our hands are tied by the pandemic. But, we'll be connecting, rebuilding, and moving forward together based on what we've all experienced during this pandemic, how the virus and lockdown is changing our city, and what we all need. Bold and collective action to address our transportation emissions is the only response that makes sense for everyone in our city and, as Oxford emerges from lockdown, this will be the moment to keep the positive changes we've made, deny the instinct to return to unhelpful ways of getting around, and embrace the bolder changes that will be necessary and possible."


Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council, added: “We understand that the coronavirus emergency has changed market conditions for many businesses. The updated timelines provide bus operators in Oxford the ability to comply with the Low Emission Zone and clean up Oxford’s air, whilst taking in to consideration the challenges that have emerged due to the coronavirus pandemic. I would like to reassure residents that despite the current public health challenge, Oxfordshire County Council remains wholly committed to offering transport solutions that will lead to cleaner air for all.”

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