Work to improve air quality in Birmingham has taken a significant step forward after it was announced today that the city council will receive £2.9 million from the Department for Transport (DfT) to implement an electric taxi infrastructure across the city.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) funding will enable the council to proceed with plans for a total of 197 charge points across the city centre and outer city areas, all of which will offer fast or rapid charging facilities for Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

These include two key ‘super’ charge point hubs at Tyseley Energy Park, on the main route to Birmingham Airport and the Birmingham NEC, and at Birmingham New Street Station’s Ellis Street car park, which is the main rank, pick-up and drop-off point in the city centre. Each will have a minimum of six charge points. These will be supported by charging points at a further seven city centre locations, including Star City, Birmingham Coach Station, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Sheepcote Street, off Broad Street.

Additionally, every arterial route to the outer city area, where it links to the A4040 ring road, will benefit from a network of charge point sites which will particularly benefit private hire vehicles operating from or within Birmingham suburbs.

Birmingham’s taxi fleet currently numbers 1,229 Hackney carriages and 4,060 private hire vehicles, and the council is working towards a 50 per cent uptake of ultra-low or zero-emissions vehicles across the entire fleet by 2020. Birmingham is one of five cities mandated by the Government to implement a Clean Air Zone in order to become compliant with air quality legislation, and this will include requiring taxis to meet Euro 6 vehicle emissions requirements.

Councillor Lisa Trickett, cabinet member with responsibility for air quality at Birmingham City Council, said: “Everyone living and working in the city has the right to clean air and our taxi fleet will play a key role in helping us to achieve this, so I am absolutely delighted that we have been successful in our bid for this crucial funding.

“We have worked closely with taxi drivers to identify these charge point locations, ensuring that they will benefit those working in the outer city suburban areas as well as those in the city centre itself. This will also take forward the work we have already been doing to retrofit 65 of our Hackney carriages with LPG engines.

“Of course, we also recognise that replacing a vehicle like this represents a significant expense for taxi drivers, which is why we will be looking at the support available to facilitate this. We have also been lobbying the Government, calling on ministers to work with us to help ensure that we are able to meet our air quality obligations without unfairly penalising those who rely on their vehicles for their income.”

This latest announcement comes at the same time as news of the opening of a new £300 million electric taxi factory in Coventry, which will create 1,000 jobs in the region.

Birmingham City Council is currently consulting on proposals for new taxi emission standards, details of which be found here.

Birmingham residents and businesses can also share their views on air quality in the city here.