To consider report HCS/21 of the Head of Community Services.
The Environmental Health and Licensing Manager introduced report HCS/21 of the Head of Community Services. The Council as the Licensing Authority implements a Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy, of which appendices A and E concern vehicle specification including controls over emission standards. Report HCS/21 set out the proposed changes to the emission standards for licensed vehicles, which aimed to improve air quality in Crawley following the declaration of a climate emergency by the Full Council in July 2019. Appendices A and E were due to be updated so that:
· Only zero emission capable vehicles and those that meet the Euro 6 petrol standards would be eligible to apply for a vehicle license from 1 April 2022;
· Unless exceptional circumstances warrant an exemption, all licensed vehicles would be required to meet the Euro 6 standard by 1 October 2022;
· Diesel-fuelled vehicles would be phased out of the taxi fleet by 1 April 2027.
It was noted that after a 12 week public consultation period, any comments or objections would be considered by the Committee at the following meeting.
The Committee then considered the report. In response to queries regarding the cost of ensuring vehicle compliance, it was estimated that roughly one third of the current fleet was already compliant with the Euro 6 standard and those that were not would have two years to ensure this. The Committee heard that old vehicles were able to be traded in for a cost reduction on compliant vehicles, and that various grants, road tax reductions and licence fee reductions would be available to incentivise the purchase of electric or hybrid ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV). The Licensing team would also provide guidance to drivers regarding vehicle compliance.
The importance of the climate emergency was discussed – it was noted that the new standards were a stepping stone towards lower carbon emissions and that a realistic approach was necessary to ensure the success of sustainable green policies. Levels of NOx were problematic in Crawley but the new standards would go some way toward facilitating the extension of the existing air quality management zone towards Three Bridges. It was also confirmed that particulate matter generated by tyre wear was no greater by an electric vehicle than a non-electric one. The Committee also discussed the capability and functionality of other energy sources, such as hydrogen and solar power.
Concerns were raised regarding the availability of charging points for electric vehicles. The Committee was informed that each neighbourhood parade would in the future be fitted with a charging point and that plans to fund the installation of more charging points were being made by West Sussex County Council.
1) That the Head of Community Services is authorised to undertake a consultation exercise (for a minimum of 12 weeks) on the proposed changes to the Council’s policy on emission standards for licensed hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.
2) That it is noted that in the event there are objections and/or negative responses received as a result of the consultation process, these shall be presented to the next Licensing Committee meeting after the conclusion of the consultation exercise.
3) That it is noted that in the event there are no objections or negative responses received as a result of the consultation process, the proposed changes to the Council’s policy on emission standards contained within report HCS/21 are adopted and will come into force 14 days after the conclusion of the consultation exercise.