Black cabs go green

London's black cabs are to go 'green' in a trial launched this week in central London by Environment and Transport Minister Lord Whitty.

A fleet of 12 cabs has been fitted with catalytic converters, which will reduce emissions of particulates by up to an estimated 25%. Over the next few months the cabs will be monitored to see how green they really are given the typical ‘stop – go’ driving conditions found in London.

If the trial is successful, it could be extended to other black cabs in London and in other major cities with significant air pollution problems such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Bradford.

The initiative was developed by the Central London Partnership (CLP) – a venture set up between local authorities, service providers and businesses with an interest in the city, which aims to promote efficient movement around central London and a better environment.

The CLP set up a working group around two years ago to look at ways of reducing pollution from taxis operating in central London. The group concluded that fitting older taxis with catalytic converters would be the most effective way of achieving this aim.

The trial is being funded by the Energy Saving Trust’s Clean Up programme – the new name for the Cleaner Vehicles programme – which is sponsored by DETR. The Clean Up programme, which provides grants to fit emission-reducing devices on urban public service vehicles, will now receive an extra £30 million a year in DETR funding over the next three years.

“The black cab delivers a vital public transport service in our busy capital city and our cabbies are widely admired for their in-depth knowledge of London streets,” said Lord Whitty. “Whilst the typical London taxi is not especially dirty – and indeed is generally well maintained – there are around 20,000 black cabs operating in our capital. So any measure that can cut pollution from taxis can potentially make a real difference to air quality in our capital city, making it a better place in which to work, live and grow up.”

“I wish this initiative every success and would like to thank the Central London Partnership for their hard work in developing it,” added Lord Whitty. “I am very pleased that my Department has been able to sponsor it through the Clean-Up programme.”

The project will focus on pre-1997 taxis, as newer cabs already have catalytic converters. Existing initiatives include fitting particulate traps to urban bus and truck fleets, and converting London taxis to run on gas. In future, the programme may be expanded to include fitting older cars based in urban areas with catalytic converters.

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