TAXI drivers in Bradford are being encouraged to apply for cash from a £10 million pot to help them switch to hybrid or electric vehicles.

The push towards Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEZ) comes ahead of the creation of Bradford’s Clean Air Zone which will come into force next year.

Private hire and Hackney Carriage vehicles can now apply for thousands of pounds in grants to help them ditch their highly polluting vehicles and move towards greener vehicles.

Bradford Council has been told to reduce levels of Nitrogen Dioxide in the district by the Government, and to assist in bringing those levels down the Council has secured £10 million worth of Government grants to help taxi drivers make the switch to electric and hybrid.

The reduction of polluting vehicles will make the air cleaner, benefitting the health of all residents and communities around the district, with many people – particularly children – suffering respiratory problems due to the levels of pollutants in the air we breathe.

People driving polluting vehicles will have to pay a daily congestion charge to enter the Clean Air Zone, in a bid to reduce traffic levels.

Earlier this year hundreds of taxi drivers have held strikes in the city centre against the congestion charge and introduction of a Clean Air Zone.

Hackney carriage drivers and those with wheelchair accessible vehicles can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to switch to electric, hybrid or low polluting vehicles, while private hire drivers can get grants of up to £3,200. The grants are the most generous on offer in the country.

LevC TX taxis - used in London - is a range-extending EV (a petrol engine tops up the battery) cost £55,599 brand new and has a range of 377 miles, while for a fully electric saloon car for private hire a new car will set a driver back at least £30,000.

A wheelchair accessible vehicle, such as a Nissan eNV-200, will cost at least £35,000.

It means almost 3,000 grants can be distributed, with a quarter of these ringfenced for those going fully electric, and grants available to help cover running costs in the next two years.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, executive member for Heathy People and Places, said: “We have been working with drivers and companies in the district to make sure we can deliver the best package of measures for this important service in our district.

“These grants will give them choice in how they best prepare for the Clean Air Zone - whether that is switching to a second-hand hybrid or getting a newer electric vehicle.

“By making these changes, not only will they be making their working environment cleaner and healthier, but they will also be helping to improve the health of everyone in the district.

“With one in five children having a breathing difficulty in Bradford, it is essential they apply for these grants as soon as they can.”

The grants application system can be found on the Bradford Council website.