Taxi operators in Glasgow who do not have access to funded retrofit solutions to meet Low Emission Zone requirements will be given extra time to prepare, after the proposal was approved by the City Administration Committee today.
The plan to grant a 'time-limited exemption' of one year to operators under these circumstances would see enforcement of the emission standards required by Glasgow's LEZ deferred until 1 June 2024.
This temporary exemption reflects that without the availability of retrofit (an option largely funded by a Transport Scotland grant) some taxi operators face additional costs to meet the emission standards required to operate in Glasgow beyond the LEZ enforcement date of 1 June 2023.
Operators who are eligible for funding support, must meet LEZ emission standards by the time of general enforcement as will all other vehicles driving into the zone. However, should issues arise over grant funding availability and/or retrofitting capacity, the council has previously guaranteed operators a short-term exemption so long as an application for funding has been made prior to 31 October 2022.
This assurance, which responds to sector feedback, has been strengthened by a recent £5m boost to the LEZ Support Fund following dialogue between the council and the Scottish Government. This has since seen operators' contribution toward the cost of retrofit, significantly reduced.
Councillor Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport and Climate, said: "The Low Emission Zone is a vital public health measure to tackle longstanding, illegal levels of air pollution in our city centre.
"Our approach to mitigating the impact of the LEZ on taxi operators is aimed at supporting the transition to LEZ compliance by encouraging the uptake by all eligible operators of increased Scottish Government funding for vehicle retrofit. Meanwhile, granting a temporary exemption to taxi operators who cannot access a funded retrofit solution to allow some more time to achieve emission compliance is a balanced and practical way to support the sector ahead of next year's general enforcement of Glasgow's LEZ.
"This considered approach balances our resolute determination to tackle the pressing public health issues associated with air quality as quickly as we can, with our desire to mitigate as far as possible the cost to operators to achieve compliance.
"I also very much welcome the additional funding that has been made available through the retrofit element of the LEZ Support Fund, and would again encourage the early uptake of this improved funding support for retrofits by all eligible operators. As we head toward LEZ enforcement, we will continue to support the taxi sector in achieving compliance, whether that is through the available retrofit funding, or by granting operators additional time to prepare where they do not have that option open to them."
Glasgow's Low Emission Zone sets an environmental limit in our city centre - restricting access for the most polluting vehicles to improve air quality and protect public health. It will also help accelerate the uptake of less polluting vehicles, encourage people to move away from private car use and increase the safety and attractiveness of our city centre.
The inclusion of all vehicle types in Glasgow's LEZ design will maximise the health and environmental benefits deliverable and builds upon the first (bus-only) phase which was introduced in 2018 and has since seen a much greater proportion of cleaner, low and zero emission local service buses travelling through our city centre and beyond.
Those living within the LEZ boundary have additional time to prepare, with the enforcement start date for vehicles registered to a residential address within the zone, commencing on 1 June 2024.
Ahead of general LEZ enforcement, a multi-disciplinary working group is overseeing its planning. Procurement for camera and back-office solutions is already underway, whilst installation of enforcement infrastructure is advanced and expected to be complete by the end of the year. Official LEZ signage that has been established at national level will be installed on city streets and the M8 motorway by December, whilst access to vehicle databases for LEZ compliance checks and enforcement is being undertaken at national level and is expected to be in place shortly, allowing for an extended test period before enforcement.
The City Administration Committee report can be accessed by clicking on this link.
Members of the committee also agreed the council should write again to the Scottish Government to request additional funding for affected taxi operators.