CONTROVERSIAL new Euro-5 emissions and crash safety standards for Woking cabs look set to be given the green light, despite strong opposition from the trade.
Having already given a two-year deferral to the enforcement of European emissions engine standard five and NCAP-5 crash safety ratings to all new cabs and taxi licence renewals, the Taxi Trade Task Group confirmed on Wednesday last week that they will recommend the Euro-5 rules come into force in January 2014 as planned.
By way of a reprieve, the task group – which was set up in September to examine the Euro-5 requirements for taxi drivers following their petition to the council – have agreed to recommend the council push back implementation of the Euro-6 standards by four years, and also to scrap the CO2 surcharge for taxis.
Chairman of the licensing committee Councillor Carl Thomson told the News & Mail: “The task group had a lot of evidence to support our work and we are grateful to everyone from the trade who responded.
“Although some drivers who hoped for another deferral of Euro-5 will be disappointed, it was signalled far in advance that this standard would be introduced and further delay would be unfair on those who have already complied with the rules.
“However, I hope the trade will be pleased to see that we have taken representations on board and they will get a clear financial benefit from moving back the implementation of the Euro-6 standards.”
The council believe new regulations are necessary to reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon into the environment, while acting as the framework for vehicle replacement to ensure that taxis carrying
passengers in the borough are subject to a maximum age limit.
Scheduled to come into force in 2018, the Euro-6 involves even more stringent requirements and, in light of the economic circumstances, the group have recommended this be delayed until 2022.
In 2009 Woking Borough Council’s executive agreed to delay the Euro-5 standards beyond the original roll-out date of January 2012 to 2014.
However, at the beginning of this year, cab drivers began lobbying the council for a further deferral on the grounds that the economic climate makes it difficult to buy replacement vehicles.
In response, the licensing committee set up a task group including Conservative Councillors Carl Thomson and Anne Murray, and Liberal Democrat Ken Howard, to examine the policy to see if another delay was necessary.
At the meeting of the task group on Wednesday, October 9, councillors examined 130 responses to a public consultation on the subject, as well as a copy of the original petition to the council.
The group unanimously recommended that the decision to introduce Euro-5 in January should stay, but recognised that any driver required to change their vehicle should benefit from that purchase for longer.
The committee will therefore be suggesting that the introduction of Euro-6 be delayed for four years, extending the length of time before vehicles registered under the new standard need to be replaced.
The task group will also be recommending that the CO2 fee, an additional charge paid by taxi drivers towards green projects in the borough, be scrapped, which will further help to relieve financial pressure on the trade.
Cllr Thomson confirmed: “We will be recommending that the council proceed with Euro-5 by January but delay Euro-6, and scrap the CO2 surcharge.”
The group’s recommendations will go to the council’s executive, who will take the final decision in November.