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Newcastle taxi drivers could be set for new vehicle upgrade grants worth up to £4,000

Taxi drivers in Newcastle could receive up to £4,000 in new vehicle upgrade support grants, as final plans for a Clean Air Zone will be put before councillors this month.

The plans will be supported by proposals for a £23m package of support for drivers affected by the Clean Air Zone charge.

Cabinet members in Newcastle and Gateshead are being asked to consider the final business case, which sets out the council's response to a government legal order demanding action on pollution levels in areas where they exceed legal limits.

The plans include a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) covering Newcastle city centre as well as support packages for drivers of non-compliant taxis, vans, lorries and buses who would face charges to enter the zone from July 2022.

As well as funding to help drivers upgrade to a cleaner vehicle if their current one does not comply with the required CAZ emissions standards, there are also plans to delay charging for some vehicles to allow time for upgrades to take place, while others will be completely exempt.

The level of support available to help drivers will be determined by government but, subject to cabinet approval, councils are set to request just under £23m of grant funding. If approved by government, this would see vehicle upgrade grants of up to £3,700 for taxis and private hire vehicles and up to £4,000 for wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles.

A two-year exemption to allow time for upgrades to take place is proposed for commercial vehicles like taxis and private hire vehicles that are subject to a finance agreement.

Commercial vehicles that are registered to a business address within the Clean Air Zone, up to a maximum of two vehicles per company will also be exempt along. With community transport vehicles and wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “When we consulted on our clean air proposals in 2019 it was clear that people and businesses wanted to see support in place for those affected and we are seeking to ensure that the government helps us to provide that support.

“We are asking for what we believe is a fair and reasonable level of funding to help businesses on Tyneside avoid Clean Air Zone charges and reduce their impact on our air quality and the environment, which has benefits for us all.”


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