Anger at plans to force taxis to cut emissions

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MORE than two-thirds of Sheffield’s black cab drivers could be forced to replace their vehicles or spend more than £1,000 upgrading engines to reduce exhaust emissions under plans being considered by councillors.

Members of Sheffield Council’s licensing board are examining proposals for an emissions policy to ‘make fleets greener and more environmentally-friendly’.

Officials say Sheffield is the largest city without such a policy for its 854 licensed Hackney carriages and 1,352 private hire vehicles.

At a board meeting tomorrow, councillors are being asked to consider ensuring all taxis meet either Euro 3 or even more stringent Euro 4 standards for emissions.

Black cabs aged six years or less meet the Euro 4 standard, but make up just 29 per cent of the fleet, while 70 per cent meet the Euro 3 standard.

The plans were criticised by Shuquit Din, aged 46, of Shirecliffe, a black cab driver in the city since 1989.

He said: “What difference will it make to overall pollution levels by singling out a few hundred vehicles? All the council seems to be doing is picking on taxi drivers.

“We have to pass an MoT test and cars over five years old are already checked twice a year to make sure they are in tip-top condition. Everything seems to be about making us pay more money.

“My taxi is a 55 plate, so I have to pay £50 for the test twice a year, along with £150 each year to the council for the licence plate.”

Current standards for taxis in Sheffield focus on age, with a maximum of 15 years for a black cab taxi and nine years for a private hire vehicle.

Steve Lonnia, council chief licensing officer, said: “Many other major cities are introducing an emissions policy to make their licensed vehicle fleets greener and more environmentally-friendly.

“Sheffield is the current largest city without an emissions policy.”

Mr Lonnia said the oldest 72 black taxis would have to be replaced, while other vehicles could have alterations to their engines, although they could cost more than £1,000 a vehicle.