UPDATE ON ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES WITH THE LICENSED VEHICLE FLEET
- Meeting of Licensing Committee, Wednesday, 23 June 2021 9.30 am (Item 8.)
- View the background to item 8.
To consider a report by the Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services (copy enclosed) updating members on the current position relating to the Welsh Government Green Taxis Pilot Scheme for zero emission vehicles.
RESOLVED that, subject to members’ comments, the update on the Welsh Government Green Taxi Pilot Scheme be received and noted.
The Senior Licensing Officer (NJ) submitted a report (previously circulated) updating members on the current position relating to the Welsh Government (WG) Green Taxis Pilot Scheme for zero emission vehicles and Denbighshire’s success in securing WG funding for 4 electric vehicles and charging infrastructure as part of that pilot scheme.
WG had set a target of de-carbonising the taxi fleet entirely by 2028 and it was anticipated that the pilot scheme would assist in that aim. The three pilot areas were Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), Denbighshire and Pembrokeshire. In total 50 fully electric wheelchair-accessible Nissan Dynamo taxis would be purchased, 44 for CCR, 4 for Denbighshire and 2 for Pembrokeshire. The associated charging infrastructure would also be installed in each area and the scheme would operate on a ‘try before you buy’ basis allowing licensed taxi drivers to try the vehicle free of charge for 30 days and included free electric charging, insurance, vehicle licensing, breakdown cover etc. Drivers would then complete an evaluation survey and be provided with information on schemes/assistance for long term ownership/lease of zero-emission vehicles. The pilots would operate for 2 – 3 years and Fleet Management were leading and administering the project in Denbighshire. The Fleet Mobility Officer was in attendance to answer questions about the scheme.
Members welcomed the scheme as a means of encouraging the taxi trade to switch to zero emission vehicles and for the environmental benefits that would bring which was a corporate priority for the council. During debate members raised questions with officers regarding the practical implementation of the scheme, including the necessary charging infrastructure and how it would be monitored to ensure the best outcomes. Members were also keen to ensure that the county’s rural areas could also take advantage of the opportunities presented as part of the pilot scheme.
Officers responded to members’ questions and comments as follows –
· the council had 4 vehicles in its possession waiting to be licensed and a procurement process for the 50 kW chargers to meet the operational needs of the taxi trade was imminent. It was envisaged that the chargers would be installed within the next 8 – 10 weeks following which the pilot would commence
· the vehicles would be offered on a 30 day ‘try before you buy’ basis and uptake would be encouraged with assurances that the infrastructure and fuelling system would be in place to support the trade with the uptake of zero emission vehicles
· grant funding would be provided for an initial two years with the opportunity for a third year if data reporting demonstrated the pilot was successful
· the unsuccessful attempt by a local taxi firm to switch to electric vehicles (as reported in the press) had largely been due to the current lack of charging infrastructure to meet the operator’s particular business model. However the charging infrastructure was being developed to suit all operator business models and it was expected the same operator would take up the opportunity of participating in the pilot. In response to concerns that uptake would be adversely affected by the negative press coverage, officers provided assurances that there had been an exceptional amount of interest in Rhyl and Prestatyn
· as part of the grant terms the scheme would be piloted in the North of the county, predominantly around Rhyl which had high levels of CO2 and NO2 and if successful there was an opportunity to expand the pilot scheme. Where taxi proprietors had their own charging provision (such as home charges) they could also be supported and included as part of the pilot if it met their business model
· the scheme was not confined to just taxi operators with 400 licensed drivers in the county who would be eligible to apply to participate in the pilot
· it was a long and complex process to install electric chargers which was still at a very early stage but wider provision was being looked at across the county, not just for taxis, with chargers going into public car parks in Llangollen before the end of the financial year and there was potential for rapid chargers to be installed in Corwen. Transport for Wales was also looking at the potential to create a charge park type area in Corwen along the TrawsCymru bus network which would suit electric taxis, electric buses and electric bin wagons. Most projects of this type were in their infancy but gaining momentum and over time steps would be taken to install charging provision throughout the county.
Councillor Huw Williams reiterated his disappointment over the lack of opportunities for areas outside of Rhyl and Prestatyn, particularly rural areas, to participate in the pilot scheme given the lack of charging infrastructure and asked that charging points be installed in every major town in Denbighshire. It was agreed that those comments also be included in the Committee’s resolution.
RESOLVED that, subject to members’ comments above, the update on the Welsh Government Green Taxi Pilot Scheme be received and noted.