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Mar 03

New drive to stop taxis polluting Birmingham city centre

The city’s licensing chief Barbara Dring calls on taxi trade to shut off engines in a bid to help the city meet its clean air targets.

Taxis drivers who leave the engine running and pumping out pollution while waiting in city centre ranks are to be targeted by a new campaign.

The city’s licensing chief Barbara Dring has called on the taxi trade to make an effort to shut off engines in a bid to help the city meet its clean air targets.

But she has admitted it will be difficult to enforce such a measure with fines or bans and instead hopes drivers will turn off their engines voluntarily if prompted by warning signs.

It is estimated that 520 people in Birmingham a year die prematurely as a result of poor air quality and the council has been warned it faces a £60 million fine if it does not tackle pollution.

Measures already being looked at include a city centre Clean Air Zone in which high-polluting lorries, vans and buses will be charged, and controversial new restrictions to reduce the age of licensed taxis and minicabs – getting cleaner and greener vehicles on the roads.

Taxi drivers groups are up in arms over the plans, to be introduced in December. to replace the age limit from 14 years to a new emissions test which more than 500 cars would fail.

Now licensing chiefs are also looking at warning signs in lay-bys, taxi ranks and outside schools to get waiting cars to stop idling.

Cllr Dring (Lab, Oscott) said: “Taxis are among the worst for emissions when they stand and have their engines running.

“We are in talks with regard to the trade clean air act and this is one of the things we will be addressing.

“We have the right to ask any car to turn off their engine while stationary and we are looking to enforce this especially around New Street Station.”

She highlighted Sundridge Primary School in Kingstanding which has put up warning signs for waiting parents. “This is something which could be done across the city.”

And suggested that New Street Station, where taxis spend a long time waiting, could provide a warm waiting area for drivers to reduce the temptation to keep engines running in the winter.

source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/

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