Like several other UK cities, Newcastle upon Tyne has introduced a Clean Air Zone to cut pollution – and is offering financial assistance to help taxi drivers meet the cost of replacing older, more polluting vehicles.
The Clean Air Zone was introduced on January 30 to help to improve air quality by reducing the number of high-polluting vehicles on the roads both within the zone and in the surrounding areas.
The zone covers most of Newcastle city centre, as well as routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh Bridges.
Non-compliant taxis and private hire vehicles that currently enter the Clean Air Zone are charged £12.50 a day, while buses, coaches and lorries are charged £50 a day. Private, non-compliant cars and motorbikes are not affected.
While drivers of some older vehicles might decide to take the hit and pay the daily charge, adding more than £250 to the monthly cost of running their taxi business won’t go unnoticed. And this is on top of taxi insurance, vehicle excise duty, fuel, maintenance and repairs.
Clean air zone charges for vans and light goods vehicles have been delayed until July 17 to allow additional time for owners to upgrade due to national vehicle supply issues.
Similar schemes are already operating in Birmingham, Bath, Bristol, Sheffield, Bradford and Portsmouth. A scheme for Manchester is on hold while a review is under way.
The North East scheme has been introduced to cut illegal pollution levels and improve health in the area.
Newcastle Council said: “We are committed to tackling the problem of poor air quality. This is something that affects us all. It poses a real threat to people’s health and is linked to serious conditions including heart disease, cancer and breathing problems. Older people, children and those with existing health conditions are more likely to be affected.”
In order for taxis and private hire vehicles to enter the zone without paying charges, they must meet the Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) emissions requirements. These apply to petrol vehicles built after 2005 and diesel vehicles built after 2015, as well as hybrids and electric vehicles.
To help reduce pollution in the area, the council is offering grants to drivers of older, more polluting taxis and private hire vehicles to help replace or upgrade them.
Taxis, including Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, can receive up to £3,500 towards the cost of a replacement, while wheelchair-accessible taxis, including Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles, can get up to £4,000
The funding can be used to help purchase a compliant vehicle, either new or second hand, to replace one that does not meet the CAZ standards.
This can include minibus replacement where the vehicle is licensed as a taxi or where a community transport permit or operator’s licence is in place.
Drivers of vehicles licensed in Newcastle, Gateshead or North Tyneside can apply for grant funding if their vehicle does not meet CAZ emissions requirements and would be charged to enter the CAZ.
To apply, go to breathe-cleanair.com/grants
And to help drivers replace their vehicles, appointed financial providers will also be able to offer low interest, subsidised finance arrangements to help meet the cost of buying a replacement vehicle.
Drivers who have applied for funding will also receive a letter confirming an automatic 120-day exemption from CAZ charges to give them time to purchase the replacement vehicle.
How will Newcastle’s Clean Air Zone affect your taxi business?
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