The role of Taxi Licensing (Agenda item 7)
· Presentation on The Road to Zero (Department of Transport Strategy); and
· The role of taxi licensing (verbal with slides) – Richard Boole, Environmental Protection Manager.
Richard Boole, the Environmental Protection Manager provided Members with a detailed presentation on climate change, air quality and health; local authorities’ duties around air quality, the wider local authorities’ roles/opportunities, the challenges ahead and future trends (see presentation attached).
The presentation also provided Members with an overview of the HM’s Government’s Industrial Strategy called ‘The Road to Zero’ – a long term strategy outlining how the Government proposed to reduce emissions from vehicles on the UK’s roads and drive the uptake of zero emission road transport.
It was noted that a similar presentation had been provided at the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting in September 2019.
The Environmental Protection Manager explained that ‘The Road to Zero’ outlined a number of ambitious measures and highlighted the following information:
· to end the sale of traditional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040
· between 50 and 70% of new car sales and 40% of new van sales to be ultra-low emission (ULEV) by 2040
· almost every car and van to be ULEV by 2050
· HGV’s – 15% reduction in emissions by 2025
Breckland’s responsibilities were also highlighted including more electric charging points, taxi vehicle policies, vehicle fleets/contracts, infrastructure and funding streams. He explained that Breckland Council had been involved with a project with Highways England to assist and provide sites within the Breckland area to support the strategic network along the A11 and A47 and funding had been accessed to determine the best sites for rapid charging points a number of which had already been installed.
The Environmental Protection Manager also discussed greenhouse gases, man-made emissions and the particles found in air pollution of which a significant proportion was transport related.
Councillor Morton raised a concern about the increase in CO2 emissions in respect of Light Good Vehicles (LGVs). Members were informed that this was mainly due to the change in shopping habits and the increasing trend of next day deliveries.
Attention was drawn to the taxis and Clean Air Zones and the duty on Local Authorities to provide weekly data to the Air Quality Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle database, and in response to a question, the Environmental Protection Manager explained how the data was gathered and submitted. It was noted that bigger cities such as London was looking to charge £100 for non-compliant vehicles entering these areas. It was further noted that Norwich and Peterborough may do the same in three to four years.
Swaffham already had an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for traffic related nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Various diffusion tubes and one continuous monitor had been measuring NO2 levels in and around the town since 2017.
Councillor Kiddell stated that clean air zones in London were causing traffic build up in non-compliant areas. Councillor Morton asked if there was any help available for taxi drivers to purchase these cleaner vehicles. Members were informed that grant schemes were available but funding was limited.
In response to a question about whether there was any security built into the Rapid Charging Points, Members were informed that users could set up an account – the cost to fully charge a vehicle was around £6. Councillor Bowes asked if there was any incentives for private installations. The Environmental Protection Manager explained that funding available for private installations had decreased quite dramatically due to the rise in costs.
Attention was drawn to the National Clean Air Day slide which was all about the increase in public awareness. Councillor Dale pointed out that since Dan from Pure Clean Earth came to Attleborough, the town had been much tidier.
Councillor Kiddell asked if there was any evidence to prove that the air quality was any better if your vehicle’s engine was turned off when in a queue. If there was, she felt that such evidence could be included in Breckland’s Taxi Policy – using start/stop and turning off engines in the taxi ranks. Members were informed that such evidence was already displayed in Clean Air Zones. The Environmental Protection Manager mentioned Electric Blue which was a company that could be commissioned to undertake a more detailed study of the vehicles and their driving habits through the installation of a ‘black box’ for a period of time with willing participants. This was something that could be investigated.
Councillor Carter raised a concern about agricultural vehicles. He felt that the slide where it highlighted that Norway was the lead in respect of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) was unfair as Norway did not have much agriculture unlike the UK.
It was agreed that the Democratic Services Officer would send Members the Environmental Protection Manager’s contact details if Members had any further questions or concerns.