As more Clean Air Zones appear around the country, it’s good to see help is available to taxi drivers to make the switch to less-polluting vehicles.
We recently mentioned Newcastle Council’s grants to help taxi drivers replace older, polluting vehicles with newer, greener models operating in its Clean Air Zone.
Another area to recently introduce a CAZ is Sheffield, covering the inner ring road and city centre.
As well as offering help towards the cost of new vehicles, Sheffield City Council has gone a step further and is offering retrospective grants to taxi and private hire drivers who bought greener vehicles before the scheme was introduced.
This is a welcome move which shows that the council is listening to taxi drivers who use the area regularly. It can feel like a slap in the face when you do something but miss out on a benefit or reward based purely on timing.
By rewarding drivers who made the switch to EVs and other less-polluting petrol and diesel vehicles before the new-vehicle grant scheme was launched, the council is recognising the spirit of the Clean Air Zone, and not just making drivers of older vehicles pay to enter it.
Under the retrospective scheme which closes next week, taxi drivers could receive up to £5,000 towards a new or used Euro 6 / Euro 4 vehicle they have already purchased. If they have bought a ULEV, they could receive up to £10,000 towards its cost, and if they have retrofitted an existing vehicle, they could claim up to £4,000.
For private hire drivers, including minibuses with up to eight seats, they could claim £2,625 towards a new or used Euro 6 / Euro 4 vehicle and £3,000 towards a new or used ULEV.
Drivers of larger private hire vehicles with nine to 16 seats could get £3,375 towards a new or used Euro 6 / Euro 4 model, £3,750 towards a new or used ULEV, and £2,000 towards the cost of retrofitting an existing vehicle.
Having already paid for their replacement vehicle, these grants are especially welcome at a time when the fleet is dealing with taxi insurance premiums, higher maintenance and repair bills, and we are all struggling with the rising cost of living.
Sheffield City Council has recognised the difficulties people are facing and has added extra help for taxi drivers.
The council said: “We will be providing financial support to eligible residents and businesses who have been impacted by the clean air zone. If you’ve replaced a polluting vehicle with a low emissions vehicle after October 26, 2021, then you may be eligible for a grant.
“There are further options available for taxis. For example, you have the option to transfer vehicle ownership or retain the old vehicle as a private car.” This is not option for residents whose vehicles were not licenced as taxis and they cannot be kept.
Explaining the need for the Clean Air Zone, the council said: “Air pollution contributes to 250 to 500 deaths a year in Sheffield. It can permanently damage children’s lungs, can cause strokes, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Living alongside a busy road carries the same risk as passively smoking 10 cigarettes a day.
“Older, polluting vehicles are a major source of air pollution. We need to bring NO2 emissions within legal limits in the shortest possible time. We have considered a range of options to reduce pollution in line with our legal direction from the central government.
“We are not aiming to make money from the zone. Funds from the charge will go towards the upkeep of the zone and reducing air pollution in the city. The annual cost of air pollution to the UK is £20 billion and between 28,000 and 36,000 lives. Reducing the damage from air pollution saves money by saving lives.”
It is good to see a council going the extra mile to support taxi drivers, who play a vital role in the community.
If you’re going to apply – act fast as the scheme closes at 11:59pm on Thursday 29th June 2023.
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