To help taxi drivers to prepare for low-emission zones, the Scottish Government offers grant funding towards the cost of retrofitting taxis to the latest Euro 6 standard through the low-emission zone support fund. Those grants provide up to 80 per cent of the capital cost of retrofitting, which is capped at £10,000 per vehicle.
From 2019 to 2022, the LEZ support fund has made more than £5.5 million available to households and businesses, and the Scottish Government is offering a further £5 million via the LEZ support fund for 2022-23.
I understand the challenge that the introduction of LEZs presents to taxi drivers, and I have agreed to have a meeting with taxi representatives and unions to discuss the matter further. We are looking for a suitable date in the diary for that meeting.
The minister will be aware that many taxi drivers in Glasgow feel that that support is not enough.
Taxis provide employment, as well as an essential service that enables people in Glasgow to get around—especially disabled people who cannot access other forms of transport. Therefore, I am deeply concerned that only a limited number of second-hand taxis are available that can meet low-emission standards. What other specific action will the Scottish Government take to help drivers to upgrade vehicles and ensure that they are not forced to spend extortionate or unreasonable amounts in purchasing new ones or, worse still, forced out of the profession altogether?
As Pam Duncan-Glancy outlined, the Glasgow taxi fleet includes a significantly higher number of older taxis than the fleets of other cities in the country do. That might be partly due to Glasgow City Council licensing conditions being less stringent than those in other parts of the country.
As far as the provision of support is concerned, the low-emission zone retrofit fund that I mentioned provides grant funding of up to 80 per cent of the cost of retrofitting. As part of the LEZ retrofit fund, the clean vehicle retrofit accreditation scheme offers further opportunities that allow taxis to be retrofitted with new engines so that liquefied petroleum gas fuel can be used or with new exhausts for the existing diesel engine. There is also the low-emission zone support fund, which is available to eligible microbusinesses.
As I outlined in my initial response, I will meet taxi drivers and unions soon to discuss in more detail what more support we might be able to provide.
The minister will be as pleased as I am that the low-emission zone scheme for Glasgow has been agreed to. I know that the changes will be challenging for some, but they will deliver significant benefits.
How will the scheme help to improve air quality in Glasgow city centre, which is part of my constituency of Glasgow Kelvin? What other impacts can we hope to see as a result of the lowering of emissions in the city centre?
Kaukab Stewart is right to say that the issue is not without challenge, but Glasgow’s low-emission zone has now been formally submitted to the Scottish ministers—through Transport Scotland, of course—for final approval. Glasgow City Council remains on track to introduce its scheme by the end of May.
Forecasting has shown that the LEZs will significantly reduce harmful transport emissions in parts of city centres where air quality really needs to improve. LEZs will also contribute towards the meeting of emission reduction targets and are part of a range of actions that we are taking to make our transport system cleaner, greener and healthier.