FUNDS RUN OUT: Grants now depleted for taxi retrofitting prompting fresh Glasgow cabbie job concerns
Taxi drivers in Glasgow are grappling with fresh job concerns as funds for retrofitting their vehicles to comply with Low Emission Zone (LEZ) criteria have now run dry. The situation has left drivers who are currently non-compliant with limited options as they face impending deadlines.
The LEZ Retrofit programme, administered by Transport Scotland and executed by the Energy Saving Trust, has experienced an overwhelming demand for its services, causing the allocated funds for this financial year to rapidly deplete. The scheme, which aims to support eligible micro businesses, including taxi drivers, in retrofitting their existing non-compliant vehicles, plays a crucial role in ensuring the minimum emission standards set by the Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee low emission zones are met.
Grants provided through the LEZ retrofit fund covered up to 70% of the retrofitting costs for various vehicle types, subject to specific terms and conditions. Light commercial vehicles and wheelchair-accessible taxis installing retrofit exhaust after-treatment systems were eligible for grants of up to £6,000 per vehicle. For wheelchair-accessible taxis adopting re-powering technology, grants of up to £12,000 were available.
However, due to the exceptionally high demand, the funds for this financial year have been fully allocated, leaving many drivers currently non-compliant and facing uncertainty. The programme has now closed to new applications, although individuals can register their interest for future funding opportunities.
The depletion of funds has prompted concerns among taxi industry representatives, who argue that the shortage of retrofitting funds will have a significant impact on drivers and their livelihoods.
A council spokeswoman told TaxiPoint: “Glasgow’s LEZ is a crucial public health measure that aims to tackle the harmful air pollution that has blighted the city centre for decades - creating and exacerbating people's health conditions and the city's health inequalities, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable.
“Plans to extend a LEZ to all vehicle types was democratically agreed in 2018 and since then the council has undertaken an extensive programme of communications and engagement to raise awareness of the scheme, its timescale for introduction and the availability of funding to ease compliance.
“The LEZ retrofit fund has been available to eligible taxi operators since 2019. In the same year we amended licensing conditions to allow for a new license or change of vehicle to be applied to taxis more than five years old. This was a direct intervention ahead of the LEZ coming into force to increase the options available to operators of vehicles unsuitable by reason of age for retrofit.”