Leicester city council is temporarily relaxing its rules around taxi licensing in a bid to encourage greater take-up of electric taxis among cab drivers in the city.
The local authority has announced plans to introduce a temporary moratorium on its taxi licensing age policy until mid-2018, when it believes that more ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) will be available to hackney carriage operators.
Leicesterâ€™s current policy on vehicle age is that no hackney carriage will be licensed once it is over 11-years old.
A temporary relaxation of the age policy will mean that around 30 hackney carriages due to reach this limit within the next eight months could be relicensed until 30 June 2018, when the moratorium is proposed to end.
This will help â€˜bridge the gapâ€™ until ULEV hackney carriages are available, the council claims, in a move that it is thought would make it easier for operators to make the change to electric vehicles.
The measure has been requested by a number of local operators and members of the local RMT the city council claims.
All affected vehicles will continue to be subject to regular six-monthly safety tests during any extension. There are currently 328 hackney carriages licensed to operate in Leicester.
Helping the taxi transport sector to reduce their environmental impact is one of the aims in Leicesterâ€™s Air Quality Action Plan, which was approved in November 2015.
Cllr Adam Clarke, assistant city mayor for energy and sustainability, said: â€œUltra-low emission hackney cabs are one of the key kays that we can help our local taxi operators clean up their fleets and support our ambition for healthy air in Leicester.
â€œThe problem we face is that manufacturers wonâ€™t have ULEV hackney carriages available for purchase and delivery until next year.
â€œBy relaxing the age limit in this way, we are giving taxi operators a little bit of breathing space until the new ULEV hackney cabs are available. Otherwise, weâ€™re giving them no alternative other than to replace with a new petrol or diesel vehicle.
â€œUltimately, weâ€™d like all hackney carriages in the city to be ULEVs in the next ten years.â€
The relaxation of the hackney carriage age policy will not apply to private hire vehicles, where hybrid and ULEV alternatives are already available, the council says.