Birmingham confirms £15m of Clean Air Fund for taxi drivers

Birmingham City Council has earmarked £15m of its Clean Air Fund allocation for supporting taxi drivers who will be affected by the city’s new Clean Air Zone, it has confirmed.

The £15m – 39% of its £38m allocation from the government’s Clean Air Fund – will be used to support Hackney carriage and private hire drivers ahead of the city’s new charging CAZ, which is set to come into effect next year.

The council’s £38m pot will be used to fund a package of mitigation measures to help businesses and individuals likely to be impacted by the CAZ.

Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: ‘I totally understand that the introduction of the CAZ will have an impact on anyone driving a vehicle that does not meet modern emission standards, and I get the drivers’ concerns.

‘I have a lot of family and friends who are drivers and I’ve in the past represented the taxi trade as a trade union official – I understand this will be challenging and that’s why we worked very hard to get £15m from government to support drivers through the change.’

Birmingham is set to implement a Class D charging Clean Air Zone in 2020. Image credit: Elliott Brown

Of the £38m allocated to the council from the clean air fund, £5m will be used to support Hackney carriage drivers through a support package.

£2.75m will be used for a council-run Hackney carriage leasing scheme, while £7m will go towards a package for upgrading private hire vehicles.

Under the schemes, Hackney carriage drivers will be able to claim £5,000 towards buying a new ULEV vehicle or the cost of a retrofit, while they will also have the chance to lease from a fleet of up to 50 council-owned ULEVs.

Private hire drivers will get £2,500 towards the running cost of an ULEV eligible for the government’s plug-in car grant, or £2,000 towards the purchase price or lease of a vehicle not eligible for the grant.

Should they wish, private hire drivers can also claim £1,000 towards the purchase of a fossil-fuelled CAZ compliant vehicle.

‘This is a really important message to get across as people need to know the facts of what we are doing,’ Cllr Zaffar added.

Birmingham’s Class D charging Clean Air Zone was approved by ministers last month and is one of the council’s main initiatives to reduce the city’s air pollution.

Unlike CAZes planned in other cities, the CAZ will charge high polluting vehicles to enter the city centre, making it more like London’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

Birmingham was recently awarded separate funding by the Office of Low Emissions Vehicles for 197 EV charging points to support its move towards electric and hybrid taxis and private hire vehicles.

The new charging points, which are planned at several locations across Birmingham city centre and its outer circle, are planned to be available by this December.

Image credit: Elliott Brown, Flickr