Stricter age limits imposed on taxis in Portsmouth to improve air quality
TAXI drivers in Portsmouth will have to drive newer vehicles under strict rules to improve air quality.
Members of the city's licensing committee approved policy changes that will only allow first-time licences for cab drivers if their vehicle is less than four years old - as of 2022.
And licences for vehicles older than eight years will no longer be renewed. Currently there is no maximum vehicle age for re-licensing.
It was also agreed new licences would only be awarded from 2025 to hackney carriage or private hire vehicle drivers with electric or hybrid vehicles.
The plans came under fire from the city's taxi trade.
A deputation from driver Bruce Hall, from Aquacars, was read at the licensing meeting. He said: 'The four-year minimum will mean more drivers being forced to buy vehicles on finance, especially with the requirement of electric vehicles. This will mean the vehicles still being on finance despite being too old to run.'
Under the plans drivers will be eligible for loans or grants to change their vehicles.
But Mr Hall added: 'A greater amount simply must be granted not loaned to the entire industry if the council is mindful for the majority of vehicles to be electric. If not the industry will be forced into oblivion.'
However, Nickki Humphreys, the council's licensing manager explained that 63 per cent of taxis over eight years old fail the council's road worthiness tests.
The proposals were also put forward in a bid to secure £500,000 from government to provide rapid charging points at taxi ranks across Portsmouth.
Hayley Trower, air quality lead for the council, said: 'We have to prove to government we are taking this seriously to unlock the funding. If we were to make the decision we were not going to change the upper limit JAQU (the joint air quality unit) are very likely to say you can't have the funding for rapid charging.'
A total of seven committee members voted in favour of the new rules and seven abstained, meaning they were approved.
It comes as a clean air zone is set to be implemented in the south west of the city next year – charging certain non-compliant vehicles, including taxis, £10 a day to enter.