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New Reading Black Cab Emissions Policy Proposed

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A proposed new Reading Black Cab Emissions policy for cabs will remove older polluting vehicles from Reading’s roads and incentivise owners to replace them with newer taxis which are less harmful to people’s health.

Reading Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency earlier this year and is proposing the changes as part of its commitment to a carbon neutral town by 2030.

Improvements Proposed

The improvements are outlined in a report to the Council’s Licensing Committee on Wednesday October 23 and include.

  • A vehicle age policy of 20 years for 100% electric vehicles and between 12-15 years for other vehicles
  • A staged reduction in the most polluting Hackney Carriage vehicles (Euro standard 3,4 and 5a), leaving only Euro 5b and 6b or cleaner vehicles in Reading by 2024.
  • A free ‘first year’ vehicle licence fee for drivers with Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) or 100% electric vehicles, with reduced fees in subsequent years
  • All replacement vehicles to be ULEV by 2025 and Euro 5b and Euro 6b vehicles removed altogether by 2028.
  • All replacement vehicles to be a minimum of Euro 5b with  immediate effect (Oct 23rd 2019)

Current Charges

The Council currently charges a reduced fee of £145 per year to licence a 100% electric vehicle, compared to £346 for a 100% petrol/diesel vehicle.  There are currently no Ultra Low Emission Vehicles on the Reading Hackney Carriage fleet, including LPG, electric or hybrid vehicles, which means there has been no take up of this offer to date. New incentives now being proposed include:

  • A 25% reduction in the vehicle fee for all ULEV (emitting a maximum of 50g/km of CO2) from April 2020 and a 50% reduction for electric vehicles
  • A free vehicle licence fee for October 2021 to October 2022 for ULEV or 100% electric vehicles which have never been on the Reading fleet before

Importantly, the Licensing Committee will be asked to agree that the new emissions policy will complement the Council’s new Local Transport Plan, with acknowledgement that more electric charging points are required for Reading to become a net carbon zero town by 2030.

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“Road transport is the largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution.

“The Council is proposing a package of measures which – over a number of years – will reduce and eventually remove altogether the most polluting black cabs on Reading’s roads.

“At the same time we are offering incentives in the form of initially reduced licence fees for the cleanest vehicles.

“It is important to emphasise that this would be a staged approach to reducing the most polluting vehicles. 171 out of 216 Hackney Carriages on the Reading fleet are currently Euro 4 vehicles and owners would have until August 2023 to upgrade to cleaner vehicles. By 2028, all black cabs in Reading would be ultra low emission vehicles.

“This is another example of the Council backing up its declaration of a climate emergency with action. The proposals will sit alongside Reading’s new Local Transport Plan which will focus on creating more sustainable travel choices and reducing congestion and pollution in the town.”

Reading Taxi Association

The Reading Taxi Association and the Reading Cab Drivers Association have both been consulted on the proposed changes.

The Licensing Committee report also recommends that the annual standard vehicle fee be determined every year and that any incentives will be regularly reviewed to determine whether they are within budget and to reflect advances in technology.

If  agreed by Licensing Committee on October 23rd, the new policy will be forwarded to the Council’s Strategic Environment and Planning Committee in November for information.

Reading Black Cab Emissions Report

The full committee report can be found at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s8786/Lic%20HCV%20Emissions%20Policy%20Rpt%20Amended.pdf