Taxi fears over new rules for car emissions

Unhappy: Taxi drivers (l-r)  Mat Hussain, Wjaid Ali and Kahl Hussain  fear for their livelihoods.
Unhappy: Taxi drivers (l-r) Mat Hussain, Wjaid Ali and Kahl Hussain fear for their livelihoods.

Almost 1,100 taxis in Wakefield - around 90 per cent of the entire fleet - face being taken off the city’s roads after councillors agreed to toughen up on emission levels.

Wakefield Council’s licensing committee has agreed that all diesel cabs must come under the lowest pollutant category available - known as the Euro Six standard - for which only vehicles manufactured after September 2016 will qualify.

With diesels making up 1,158 of the 1,228 licensed cars and minibuses operating, the majority are already older than two years and would not be permitted to operate from the city.

Five other cities in the UK, including Leeds, are being forced to introduce congestion charges and Euro Six standards to combat high levels of pollution.

However, Wakefield is not included, and the Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association, which represents drivers, is questioning why such standards are being implemented so soon.

They fear huge numbers of drivers will simply quit, with others forced to hike up passenger fares to cover costs.

In what the association has described as a ‘double whammy’, the drivers are also facing a 60 per cent hike for a three-year licensing badge, which has risen from £231 to £384 for private hire vehicles.

Wajid Ali, co-chairman for the group said: “We want a better phasing-in period, that would be common sense, but the council has ignored it.

“There’s probably going to be a good 45 or 50 per cent of driver who will be pushed out completely because they can’t afford it. They have families to feed and mortgages to pay.

“We want to go green, it’s the future, but at what cost?” And if the emission standards weren’t enough, the badge costs will drive us out.”

The association suggested that a Euro Five standard - which covers diesels cars manufactured after 2009 - would be a more sensible solution.

Some drivers could head to neighbouring districts to be licensed, although many see this as being bad for the trade.

This would also mean that Wakefield Council loses hundreds of thousands of pounds through licensing fees.

Wakefield Council says the decisions were made following a public consultation and that drivers will have a two-year grace period to make the necessary changes.