Proposed New Black Cab Policy Reduces Polluting Emissions

A PROPOSED new emissions policy for black cabs will remove older polluting vehicles from Reading’s roads and incentivise owners to replace them with newer taxis which are less harmful to people’s health.

Reading Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency earlier this year and is proposing the changes as part of its commitment to a carbon neutral town by 2030.

The improvements are outlined in a report to the Council’s Licensing Committee on Wednesday October 23 and include.

  • A vehicle age policy of 20 years for 100% electric vehicles and between 12-15 years for other vehicles
  • A staged reduction in the most polluting Hackney Carriage vehicles (Euro standard 3,4 and 5a), leaving only Euro 5b and 6b or cleaner vehicles in Reading by 2024.
  • A free ‘first year’ vehicle licence fee for drivers with Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) or 100% electric vehicles, with reduced fees in subsequent years
  • All replacement vehicles to be ULEV by 2025 and Euro 5b and Euro 6b vehicles removed altogether by 2028.
  • All replacement vehicles to be a minimum of Euro 5b with  immediate effect (Oct 23rd 2019)

The Council currently charges a reduced fee of £145 per year to licence a 100% electric vehicle, compared to £346 for a 100% petrol/diesel vehicle.  There are currently no Ultra Low Emission Vehicles on the Reading Hackney Carriage fleet, including LPG, electric or hybrid vehicles, which means there has been no take up of this offer to date. New incentives now being proposed include:

  • A 25% reduction in the vehicle fee for all ULEV (emitting a maximum of 50g/km of CO2) from April 2020 and a 50% reduction for electric vehicles
  • A free vehicle licence fee for October 2021 to October 2022 for ULEV or 100% electric vehicles which have never been on the Reading fleet before

Importantly, the Licensing Committee will be asked to agree that the new emissions policy will complement the Council’s new Local Transport Plan, with acknowledgement that more electric charging points are required for Reading to become a net carbon zero town by 2030.

Tony Page
Cllr Tony Page

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“Road transport is the largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution.

“The Council is proposing a package of measures which – over a number of years – will reduce and eventually remove altogether the most polluting black cabs on Reading’s roads.

“At the same time we are offering incentives in the form of initially reduced licence fees for the cleanest vehicles.

“It is important to emphasise that this would be a staged approach to reducing the most polluting vehicles. 171 out of 216 Hackney Carriages on the Reading fleet are currently Euro 4 vehicles and owners would have until August 2023 to upgrade to cleaner vehicles. By 2028, all black cabs in Reading would be ultra low emission vehicles.

“This is another example of the Council backing up its declaration of a climate emergency with action. The proposals will sit alongside Reading’s new Local Transport Plan which will focus on creating more sustainable travel choices and reducing congestion and pollution in the town.”

The Reading Taxi Association and the Reading Cab Drivers Association have both been consulted on the proposed changes.

The Licensing Committee report also recommends that the annual standard vehicle fee be determined every year and that any incentives will be regularly reviewed to determine whether they are within budget and to reflect advances in technology.

If  agreed by Licensing Committee on October 23rd, the new policy will be forwarded to the Council’s Strategic Environment and Planning Committee in November for information.

The full committee report can be found at

Notes To Editor:

The European Exhaust Emissions Standard (known as the “Euro” standard) was introduced in the 1970s.   Limits on CO2, NOx and particulate matter emissions form part of these standards.  The introduction of each new Euro level brings about a reduction in carbon, hydrocarbon emissions, NOx and particulate matter from the engines.  The most significant reduction in emissions is with the latest Euro 6 engine.

Significant further reduction in carbon emissions can be achieved by converting to ULEV.  An ULEV as defined by the Vehicle Certification Agency is currently a vehicle that emits less than 75 g/km of CO2 from the tailpipe. The definition of ULEV will be reduced to 50g/km of CO2 from the tailpipe from 2021. These vehicles will be either 100% electric or a hybrid model which uses electric in conjunction with either a diesel or petrol engine.

In July 2019 Transport for London released an age policy for their HCV fleet whereby ultimately no vehicle will be older than 12 years by 2022. Manchester and Southampton councils currently have a maximum age policy of 12 years. Whereas Birmingham Council has a maximum age policy of 15 years and Milton Keynes has a maximum age policy of 10 years. Oxford City Council require all Hackney Carriage Vehicles to be a minimum of Euro 4 from 1 January 2020, all new vehicles must be ULEV from 1 January 2022 and all vehicles must be ULEV by 1 January 2025.



Oscar Mortali

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