The Torridge District Council (TDC) Licensing Team has received a request from the Taxi Liaison Committee to extend the timescales for compliance with new standards, taking into consideration the ongoing challenges faced by the taxi trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
Following a licensing committee meeting, it was resolved that TDC would continue to prioritise improving air quality and reducing emissions from the licensed fleet by introducing new exhaust emissions standards.
The taxi trade in Torridge has voiced concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their industry, stating that the demand for taxi services has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Particularly, the night-time economy has taken a severe hit, with the main nightclub in town still remaining closed since its enforced closure.
Furthermore, the cost of living crisis has significantly affected the industry, as the prices of both new and second-hand vehicles have skyrocketed. The availability and affordability of electric vehicles suitable for operating in a large rural district like Torridge has also been a major challenge.
The Government's recent announcement to extend the target for the end of sales of petrol and diesel cars until 2035 had seemingly provided some relief, but required TDC to also push back their own taxi licensing emissions standards back too.
However, the new TDC standards remain whereby all vehicles licensed by TDC will be required to meet or exceed the Euro 6 Emissions standards (or a recognised UK equivalent) from April 2026. Additionally, starting from April 2030, all vehicles being licensed for the first time must have CO2 emissions of less than 50 g/km. However, to accommodate wheelchair accessible vehicles, there will be a two-year allowance on the emissions standards dates provided in this policy.
To incentivise the transition to electric vehicles, the Torridge District Council will offer a 20% discount on the standard vehicle licence fee for a period of five years, subject to the necessary funding provision.