New taxi and private hire vehicle licence conditions to help improve air quality in Southampton

Conditions will ensure clean air compliant fleet in Southampton by 2023

As part of the Green City Charter, Southampton City Council set ambitious goals to help improve air quality. Road transport has been identified as being one of the major contributors to poor air quality in the city. The council has highlighted that a reduction in vehicle emissions across the city is essential.There is growing evidence that poor air quality can be responsible for a range of health issues including cancer, respiratory and heart illnesses.

To reduce further emissions produced by the local taxi trade, we have added new conditions to ensure we have a clean air compliant fleet in Southampton by 2023. The aim of the additional conditions is to prevent older, more polluting vehicles being provided with a taxi or private hire licence. Changes will be introduced in two stages, with the first coming into effect on 1 January 2020. The council contacted all local taxi and private hire licence holders in April 2019, asking for feedback on the proposed additional conditions. During the eight week consultation, the council received three responses.

The council introduced several incentives to support taxi and private hire vehicle owners with changing to low emission vehicles. The Low Emission Taxi Incentive Scheme (LETIS), provides a grant to eligible taxi owners, providing up to £3,000 cashback in license cost. Since the launch in December 2017, 77 upgrades have completed. There is a limited number of grants available on a first come, first served basis.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Environment, added: “The need to take urgent, strong action against air pollution is essential. We know people living, working and visiting Southampton share our commitment to improving air quality and reducing pollution across the city. “

Southampton is leading the way by introducing schemes that go beyond the government’s targets. The new licensing conditions are part of a larger, ongoing plan linked to our Green City Charter.

“Working with our partners, we have already seen local bus companies introduce measures to become eco-friendly and Associated British Ports is publishing its own air quality strategy. We are seeing more local businesses and individuals supporting our vision for a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable city.”

Changes have already been implemented to reduce road traffic emissions to improve air quality with an additional, ambitious set of environmental measures to reduce pollution and secure a green future for Southampton. The council’s new Local Transport Plan supports the vision of being a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable city. Increasing the availability and safety of cycle paths and encouraging active and sustainable transport are ways that we can help to improve the air we all breathe.