Agenda item - Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Emissions and Age Policy

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Agenda item

Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Emissions and Age Policy

Report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing (copy attached)


27.1    The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing which had been prepared in response to a deputation put forward by Councillor Dean at the meeting of the Committee held in June 2017 regarding accelerating air quality initiatives, in particular, to tackle the damaging effects of diesel engine emissions. At that time members had requested a report responding to the issues raised and providing a further update in respect of this issue.


27.2    It was noted that the Council had an Air Quality Action Plan in place which detailed a number of initiatives for improving air quality, currently it did not have a taxi licensing emissions policy. However, officers were looking at different initiatives including electric taxis, and some of the taxi fleet (to date 21 minibuses or saloons) had had exhaust adaptations to reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions. This had been facilitated using the Department of transport Clean Vehicle Transport Fund. There was also an age policy for new and replacement vehicles as set out paragraphs 3.4 and 3.5 of the circulated report. To date the take up of fully electric vehicles had been disappointing with only 1 fully electric vehicle currently licenced. The proprietor of the vehicle reported that he and his passengers are very satisfied with the vehicle. There was no exhaust maintenance on the vehicle and brake wear was reduced substantially. However, he had found that there was a lack of available working charging points and some points had been abused by users parking rather than charging vehicles.


27.3    In seeking to move this issue forward officers continued to work closely with the Council Air Quality Officer, transport and the trade to encourage the use of ultralow emission technology including hybrid and electric vehicles and to provide the necessary infrastructure such as charging points. Hybrid could be plug in hybrid or electric-engine synergy. For Brighton & Hove City Council’s the Air Quality Management Area (last updated in 2013) the council’s priority was a reduction in NOx emissions especially from the highest mileage most frequent vehicles and the avoidance of engine idling adjacent to residential dwellings and from 2018/19 a City Centre Clean Air Zone could include taxis and help attract public and private sector funding to assist with procurement of ultralow emission fleets and electric infrastructure. As part of the consultation process with the trade several submissions had been received from them and could be found at appendix 1 to the report.


27.4    Councillor O’Quinn, the Chair, welcomed the work which was being carried out in this respect stating that she was aware that discussions were underway with a view to providing more charging points in central locations across the city. Overall, the issue was bigger than taxi emissions but any steps which could be taken which would improve the problem cumulatively were positive.


27.5    Councillor Page concurred in that view stating that he was concerned that a number of vehicles operating across the city were diesel powered and resulted in far greater levels of noxious emissions than traditional petrol driven vehicles, anything which could be done to encourage more environmentally friendly vehicles should be encouraged and welcomed. Councillor Deane concurred in that view also referring to the need to address instances of vehicles idling (there were certain “hot spots” across the city where this had been identified as a particular problem), as this exacerbated existing problems.


27.6    Councillor Cattell also welcomed the report and the discussions which were underway to provide more docking/charging points around the city, anything which could be done to accelerate that process would be a positive thing for the city.


27.7    Councillor Hyde enquired regarding take-up during the previous year and whether the number of electric powered vehicles in operation across the city was increasing. The Hackney Carriage Officer, Martin Seymour, confirmed that discussions which had taken place with the trade indicated that there was a willingness to move forward on this issue but that they were aware that currently potential costs could be high and that the matter was cost sensitive. The ability to lease/rent such vehicles at reasonable cost was something to which the trade and individual drivers appeared not to be resistant.


27.8    Councillor Wares agreed that the issue was of a broader spectrum than simply encompassing the taxi trade on whom an unequal balance should not be placed. If the cost of purchasing/renting such vehicles as more became available on stream reduced significantly there would be greater take-up of such vehicles by the trade and the public.


27.9    Councillor Morris, whilst noting the progress which had been made and welcoming concurred that it was a far bigger issue than vehicle emissions, the emissions created by wood-burning stoves for example was greater, he understood that legislation to address this problem was in the pipe-line, anticipated to come into force during the next year.


27.10  RESOLVED - That Committee agree the age limits for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles should be amended as follows from the 1st April 2018:-


a)            In the case of a first application for a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle licence, petrol vehicles must meet the Euro 4 Emission Standard and not normally exceed 10 years of age from date of initial DVLA registration and not more than 10 years of age in the case of any subsequent application for renewal of licence. Diesel vehicles must meet the Euro 6 Emission Standard and not normally exceed 10 years of age from date of initial DVLA registration and not more than 10 years of age in the case of any subsequent application for renewal of licence and not to be left-hand drive.

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