West Yorkshire local authorities have committed to a multi-million pound investment in 88 rapid electric vehicle charging points as part of work aimed at improving air quality in the region.
The new network will focus in particular on the provision of charging points for taxis, in a bid to encourage the regionâ€™s taxi drivers to switch to vehicles with low and zero tailpipe emissions.
Development of the new charging network has been described by the project partners as the second largest project to provide charge points for taxis outside of London.
To deliver the network, West Yorkshire Combined Authority has secured almost Â£2 million funding from the Governmentâ€™s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
The Authority is working alongside energy and service provider ENGIE with the councils of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield â€“ who are providing an additional Â£1.2m of match funding.
Under the agreement, ENGIE will install, own and operate the charge points for a period of at least 10 years. The company will also provide 100% renewable electricity for the charging network.
Work will get underway in the coming weeks to identify suitable and convenient charge point locations, with installations expected to begin in 2019.
Each charging point will have two charging bays â€“ with one bay to be dedicated for use by taxi and private hire vehicles.
According to ENGIE, taxi and private hire drivers will be able to reserve time slots at the new charge points.
Typically, the charging points will provide a full charge to an electric vehicle in around 20 to 30 minutes, the company says, and will be free to use until late October 2021.
Councillor Kim Groves, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: â€œImproving air quality across West Yorkshire and Leeds city region while at the same time developing the transport networks vital to supporting inclusive growth is one of the Combined Authorityâ€™s key aims and this work will help us achieve that.
â€œInstalling new charging points at these sites where people can charge their vehicles for free, is designed to encourage the transfer to electric vehicles.
â€œMaking half the bays exclusively for the use of taxis and private hire vehicles could result in up to 500 diesel taxis and private hire vehicles being converted to hybrid and pure electric versions by 2020, which would reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from taxis by as much as 18%, in line with our target of developing clean energy and environmental resilience for Leeds city region.â€
Leeds is among the cities currently considering proposals for a charging Clean Air Zone â€“ and is proposing a package of measures aimed at supporting the cityâ€™s taxi and private-hire drivers in switch to cleaner models, and particularly electric vehicles.
Non-compliant petrol and diesel taxis and private-hire vehicles will be subject to a Â£12.50 daily charge to operate in the city.
Cllr James Lewis, Leeds city councilâ€™s executive member responsible for sustainability and the environment, said: â€œMost residents agree that tackling air pollution in order to protect the health of everyone in Leeds should be a priority.
â€œAs vehicles are the biggest contributor to outdoor air pollution in the city, everyone that switches to a zero-emission vehicles will be making a real difference to the air we breathe.
â€œIn our recent consultation, many residents and businesses in Leeds told us that theyâ€™d be more likely to switch to a cleaner electric vehicle if there were more places to charge.
â€œBy installing 30 charge points in and around Leeds within the next year, this scheme will make it easier and more accessible for residents to do their bit.â€
Commenting on the companyâ€™s with the West Yorkshire authorities, Wilfrid Petrie, chief executive of ENGIE UK and Ireland, said: â€œENGIE is committed to improving the lives of people in cities and urban areas by tackling air pollution and we hope the provision of rapid electric vehicle charge points across the West Yorkshire region will help encourage more people to choose a low emission vehicle.
â€œWe have seen real success and tangible improvements in carbon reduction in cities where we have managed green mobility solutions and we are looking forward to seeing this being replicated across West Yorkshire.â€