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Cleaner Cabs Scoops National Air Quality Award

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A pioneering project to retrofit Hackney carriages in Birmingham with cleaner, greener LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) engines has won a national award.

The NOx Reduction Champions Project – a partnership between Birmingham City Council, Autogas Ltd, Harborne Garage in Selly Oak, Element Energy and VRS – scooped the Local Authority and Public Sector Air Quality Initiative of the Year Award at the National Air Quality Awards in London.

Under the initiative, 65 of Birmingham’s black cabs were retrofitted with LPG engines with £500,000 through the Clean Vehicle Technology fund from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), part of the Government’s Department for Transport (DfT).

Independent test results have shown that all 65 vehicles now meet the criteria to operate within a Clean Air Zone once this is implemented in Birmingham. According to the test results, emissions from the vehicles showed a reduction of more than 80 per cent in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than 90 per cent in particulate matter, tiny airborne particles which are harmful to human health.

Awards judges praised the scheme, noting that taxi drivers who had participated in the scheme had recorded a high level of satisfaction, with 97 per cent recommending the conversions to other drivers.

Judges added: “The project has seen a local garage being trained and a new supply chain created and technology developed, now available to other local authorities.”

Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Air Quality at Birmingham City Council, said: “It is fantastic news that we have been recognised for this pioneering scheme to put cleaner, greener cabs on our roads.

“The success of this project is a hugely important step forward in the work we are doing to tackle air pollution in Birmingham, but it also has significant implications for other cities across the country too as it means there is now an effective solution to ensure black cabs are compliant with Clean Air Zones.

“We will now look to continue working with the Government and lobby for funding to roll this scheme out across the rest of the city’s Hackney carriage fleet.”

The Government, through Defra, is set to launch a national registration scheme for retrofit solutions in the coming weeks.

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