Taxi drivers raise cost concerns over moves to make Huntingdonshire taxi fleet greener

Licensing officers said they were seeing a “significant number” of older taxis failing their compliance checks
Licensing officers said they were seeing a “significant number” of older taxis failing their compliance checks -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Taxi drivers have raised concerns at the costs they could face to meet new minimum emission targets set for their cars. Huntingdonshire District Council has agreed to set a minimum emission standard that the taxis it provides a licence for have to meet. The district council will require any new driver applying for a taxi licence to have a car that meets a minimum Euro 6 emission standard, or is a hybrid or fully electric car.

For taxi drivers looking to renew their licence their car should meet a minimum of Euro 5 emission standard. The district council said restricting the re-licensing of Euro 4 cars would mean more taxis would have to be replaced with lower polluting vehicles. However, some taxi drivers raised concerns that this change could place a “sudden financial burden” on them to change their car.

One driver said they are the “primary provider” for their family and raised concerns that they could potentially lose their taxi under the changes proposed. They said: “As a taxi driver predominantly stationed at the Huntingdon Station rank, the sustainability of my seven seater wheelchair accessible vehicle directly impacts my financial stability.

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“This vehicle not only serves as my primary income source, but also affords me the flexibility to attend to my young family’s needs, including school engagements and appointments. The potential loss of my taxi due to the proposed regulations would not only pose a financial setback, but also impose exploring alternative avenues of support, potentially through government benefits.

“Additionally, the current economic downturn, compounded by the existing recession in the UK, increases the challenges faced by self-employed individuals like myself. Abrupt implementations of these regulations would render my vehicle unsuitable for licensing elsewhere or for private sale due to its age and mileage, consequently depreciating its value significantly.”

At a meeting of the district council’s licensing and protection committee this week (May 15), officers said they understood the cost concerns being raised by some of the taxi drivers. They said in recognition of this they were proposing to push back the date existing taxi drivers would need their car to meet the new minimum emission standard to 2025, rather than implementing it this year.

Councillor Jeff Clarke raised concerns that by moving to a minimum emission standard the authority could be ‘setting some drivers up to fail’. The licensing officers highlighted that the Euro 5 emission standard was the requirement set for all new cars made in 2011, with Euro 6 becoming mandatory standard in 2016.

They said the change from the existing five year rule to the minimum emission standard would actually “widen the scope” of cars available for drivers. Councillor Stephen Ferguson said he thought the change was a “sensible measure” and highlighted Euro 5 cars could still be up to 13 years old.

He also highlighted that the authority was not proposing to mandate taxi drivers to switch to a hybrid or fully electric car, as he said he did not think that was yet sustainable for taxi drivers in rural areas. The district council has also agreed a change requiring a taxi driver running a car that is eight years or older to get it checked at a garage every six months.

Some taxi operators in the area had opposed this change arguing it would add “unnecessary costs”. However, licensing officers said they were seeing a “significant number” of taxis failing their compliance checks, and that a lot of the taxis failing were older cars. Councillor Simon Bywater said it was a “shame” the requirement would add an additional cost to some taxi drivers, but said it was a “sensible approach” to make sure the cars are safe.