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Put cabbies in driving seat to net zero future with £1bn fund under accelerated Liberal Democrats plan

May 3, 2021 2:49 PM

Nissan Leaf zero emission electric car chargingAhead of the local elections, the Liberal Democrats have set out their vision to clean up Britain's air by calling for a £1 billion fund for taxi drivers to switch to electric vehicles, as part of their proposals for Clean Air Zones across Britain.

The Liberal Democrats propose ten new Clean Air Zones across the country by the end of 2022. The Clean Air Zones would combat deadly air pollution which causes 40,000 early deaths each year, with transport being the biggest emitter of harmful gases.

The Conservatives pledged in their 2019 manifesto to set "strict new laws on air quality", but this has yet to happen. Outside of London only one other council has established a Clean Air Zone, Liberal Democrats-controlled Bath.

Under Liberal Democrats plans, transition to electric and low emission buses on city centre routes would be stepped up and taxi drivers in the city would be able to buy electric vehicles at substantially discounted rates as well as benefit from interest free loans.

Cllr Greg Stone, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Transport & Air Quality, is calling on the Government and Newcastle City Council to accelerate their plans for Clean Air Zones, electric buses and coaches, and electric taxis:
"The Labour run council needs to put their foot to the accelerator if they are to get a grip on deadly low levels of air quality which are creeping up again in the city as lockdown fades. Plans for clean air zones have stalled across the country, including in Newcastle, and we believe further action is needed if we are to reach our net zero goal and clean up the air we breathe.

"There should be no trade off between our environment and our small businesses. The Liberal Democrats Opposition's plan would see lives saved and cabbies enjoying the perks of modern and cheaper to run electric vehicles.

In the UK, air pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulates, and ozone (O3) cause 40,000 early deaths each year. Since 2010, the UK has broken the legal limits for NO2 every year. Road transport is responsible for 80% of roadside NO2.

The transport sector is now responsible for the biggest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Around 28% of the UK's emissions come from transport (excluding aviation and shipping, which are counted separately).

Liberal Democrats Clean Air Zone proposals and £1bn to taxi drivers and firms.

Liberal Democrats would give local authorities more powers to easily create new Clean Air Zones - modelled on the successful clean zone Liberal Democrat run Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council, the first area outside of London to introduce a clear air zone.

As part of funding given to Councils, coach companies and taxi drivers would be given support to replace polluting vehicles with cleaner, compliant ones. This would ensure small businesses and the self-employed also benefit.

The Liberal Democrats propose the Government pays for at least one third of the total cost of the taxi and a zero-interest rate loan to cover the remaining costs.