Left to right: Steve Saunders, East Devon Licensing Manager, Giles Salter, East Devon Solicitor, Cllr Sarah Jackson, Cllr Kim Bloxham, Cllr Paul Jarvis, Mr Bakos (applicant)

East Devon’s licensing committee grants the first private hire vehicle licence in the district for a zero emission electrically propelled car

East Devon District Council’s Licensing Sub-committee has approved an application to licence an electrically propelled, zero emission car as a new private hire vehicle. The application was made by Mr Szilard Bakos to operate his new private hire business, Eco-wheel, offering pre-booked transport for the public, using his Nissan Leaf saloon car. Mr Bakos will be operating from Sidmouth when fully licensed.

The application was assessed and approved on Wednesday 18 September 2019 by councillors from the Licensing Sub-committee, against the council’s taxi policy, which normally requires licensed vehicles to be not less than 1000cc engine size, whereas of course electric vehicles, being battery powered, have no engine capacity.

The policy recognises the positive impact that low and zero emission vehicles have on the environment and the take-up and popularity of ultra-low and zero emission vehicles has increased significantly. However, the committee felt that it is clear that moving forwards this policy must now be updated to include electric vehicles, as well as vehicles with engines.

East Devon District Council has identified climate change as a priority in conjunction with delivering greener policies and in recognition of this, the Licensing Sub-committee granted the vehicle licence to Mr Bakos in conjunction with private hire driver and operator licences issued by the licensing team.

In a joint statement, Cllr Paul Jarvis, Chair of East Devon’s Licensing Committee, and Vice Chair Cllr Kim Bloxham, said:

Licensing the first zero emission private hire vehicle in East Devon is a pivotal moment towards having a carbon neutral private hire and taxi industry in the district. It was absolutely the right decision to make an exception to the council’s policy, which now needs to be amended to take account of new vehicle technology. Today we have taken the first step in a new direction for this industry.