Over 250 bids for exemptions from Glasgow’s low emission zone (LEZ) have been submitted by taxi drivers, as the council insists no operators should need to stop working in June.
Enforcement of phase two of the LEZ will begin on June 1 when private cars and taxis will need to meet the required emissions standards — and unions had warned drivers could be forced off the road.
“White lists” are currently being compiled to identify who is exempt from the rules, such as emergency services.
Councillors agreed last year that “time-limited exemptions” would be available for taxi operators, allowing drivers without funding support to avoid enforcement until June 1, 2024.
Taxi drivers must show they have applied for a temporary exemption and that they either do not have access to a funded retrofit solution or have applied for, or submitted an expression of interest in, securing funding but are waiting for confirmation of funding/work beginning.
A council spokeswoman said: “The public hire taxi exemption application process was published on the LEZ website at the end of last month. To date we have received 252 applications.
“Council officers will process applications in a timely manner and take a pragmatic and flexible approach in consideration of applications.
“With the application process now open, no public hire taxi should be unable to continue operating in June as a result of the LEZ, with flexibility up until June 2024 provided to support the transition to compliance.”
There are currently 1,391 public hire taxis operating in Glasgow.
After the application process went live, Unite Glasgow Cab Section said the “key criterion we fought for was an exemption based on simply registering an interest in a retrofit solution”. “That does not mean that you have to have made an application to retrofit, just that you have shown an interest.”
Preparation for the start of enforcement is ongoing, with installation of cameras and testing still required. There will also be “extensive communications” in the run-up to June 1.
A council official said: “There are national white lists which have to be compiled, so that is, for example, the emergency services will provide relevant white lists to incorporate into our systems.
“We are compiling the taxi white lists but there will be other white lists we must apply as well, such as blue badge holders, coming from a range of different sources, either held centrally by Glasgow City Council or by Transport Scotland.
“As the vehicle goes past [the camera] and their registration number is checked, it’s automatically checked against this white list.”
He said enforcement would be “very much along the same lines” as the process for bus lanes in the city. “The LEZ will check to make sure the vehicle is compliant with the LEZ emission standards. If it isn’t, that triggers the automatic process and that does undergo a manual review.”
An operator will carry out the review before fines are issued. Fines will be set at £60 for initial entry, reduced to £30 if paid within the first 14 days.
Penalty notices will then double for each subsequent entry into the LEZ, but are capped at £480 for cars and light good vehicles and £960 for buses and HGVs.
The council official said: “When it comes to escalation, we are not proposing to impose the surcharges on the penalty charge until such a time as the person has received that first notification.”