A PROPOSAL to make taxis more eco-friendly and cut pollution in Maldon town centre has gone under the microscope.

Maldon District Council held a meeting to discuss preparations for an Air Quality Action Plan for Market Hill and the wider district.

The discussion centred around improving emissions from taxis by introducing an age limit for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, and installing electric vehicle charging points in Maldon for taxi drivers.

However, there are concerns arose about the issue of such a tight deadline.

Andy Ambrose, of Arrow Taxis, told the council: “We’re fully supportive of the concept – our problem is the implementation period you’ve given us is less than one year to change probably 50 per cent of the taxis in Maldon.

“Then, within four years, we would have to buy completely new vehicles again to comply with the 2025 electric and hybrid vehicles section.

“We would ask that the implementation period be spread a bit longer because at the moment, as identified in your officer’s report, the financial sustainability of it is quite bad.

“It’s just something we could not afford to do, not even in 12 months.

“We have trialled electric vehicles. We were the first operators in Essex to run electric vehicles.

“We’ve got two vehicles on trial at the minute.

“We have a problem with all the products up at the moment – the range is less than what is necessary to operate a taxi service sensibly.

“But we do think that within the next year or so, we’ll see such advances in the technology that we will then be able to do it.”

There were also concerns about emissions coming from other vehicles.

Councillor Mark Heard said: “Just dealing with taxis is small beer indeed.

“Taxis are just a diesel vehicle, there are thousands of diesel vehicles that are going up and down that hill – not least of all lorries and buses which I understand are probably the main contributors anyway.

“I do think this council needs to embrace these electric charging points. To do this just for taxis is not quite enough.”

All the points discussed will be put forward in a public consultation this year.

The Air Quality Action Plan will set out the measures that the council intends to take to improve air quality in the borough between 2020 and 2025.

Councillors will review the plans later this year.