Liverpool City Council is seeking the views of taxi drivers about a plan to retire and replace older diesel engines in hackney carriages.
The council currently licenses more than 1,400 hackney carriages, several hundred of which have been retrofitted with older diesel engines. These older engines are cheaper to run but also pump out higher levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
Under the proposal, retrofitted vehicles would be phased out.
If the proposal is approved, drivers will be given three months to inform the council that they have a retrofitted cab. Those who do will be given a further five-year grace period before the council refuses to license such vehicles.
Any driver failing to notify the council of a retrofitted engine could have their license suspended and any new applications for a license automatically rejected.
James Noakes, cabinet member for air quality, said: “Improving air quality in our city is a priority for the council and its partners. Some stretches of the city’s roads exceed the accepted levels of NO2 emissions. Hackney carriages with older engines are a cause of this type of pollution and we have set ourselves strict targets to see a reduction in these potentially harmful emissions.”
Nitrogen Dioxide emissions have been linked with a range of respiratory problems. Breathing in higher than accepted levels can aggravate conditions such as asthma, particularly in children and older people.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has set up a multi-agency taskforce, which is considering a range of measures to reduce the levels of NO2 and other pollutants in the atmosphere.
As well as phasing out retrofitting engines, the group is looking at plans for more electric vehicle charging points, a campaign to encourage more people to walk or cycle for shorter journeys and a plan to reduce traffic congestion.
Noakes said: “If we want our city to have clean and clearer air for future generations then doing nothing simply isn’t an option. The plans are still at an early stage but before we move forward we want to know what members of the hackney carriage trade think about them.
“Ultimately any decision about improving air quality through removing retro-fitted engines would be taken by the council’s cabinet. We need to get everyone’s views on this issue so we can make an informed decision. We are writing to all hackney carriage drivers who are licensed in the city and I would urge them to fill in the survey and give us their views.”
Hackney carriage drivers have until Sunday 30 September to complete the survey.
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