Taxi drivers voiced their anger at a scheme to clean up Sheffield City Centre’s air at a council meeting about environmental welfare.
A potential charge of over £3,000 for cab drivers who do not meet environmental standards is set to be implemented in 2021, and representatives from Sheffield Taxi Trade Association and Sheffield City Taxis raised their concerns about Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone proposal last night.
Councillor Adam Hanrahan said: “We’re cutting off our nose to spite our face. It’s a ludicrous amount.”
The report claims the charge is not intended to penalise drivers but to remove the most polluting cars from the road by encouraging taxi drivers to switch to less-polluting electric vehicles.
Councillor Jack Scott said: “This is not a money-making scheme for us.”
However, at a cost of around £60,000 for electric vehicles and with only 55 electric charging points currently available in Sheffield, taxi drivers have asked for better consultation and a longer phase-in period before changes are implemented.
They also expressed their fears that the charges could lead to the end of London-style black cabs in the city and force drivers to switch to vehicles without partitions, at greater personal risk.
Despite these concerns, Coun Scott insisted on moving forward with the proposals due to the pressing health concerns caused by poor air quality in the city.
“This is a public health crisis that the government haven’t taken seriously since 2010. We will only get the air we deserve if we work together with taxi organisations,” he said.