Fresh £25m round of clean bus funding for local authorities

More than £2.5m each has been offered for clean bus tech to the top bidding local authorities

The fund, which was launched in 2017 and follows other similar initiatives, aims to support projects which reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions in areas of poor air quality.

The latest £25m cash pot follows a £40m round of funding to 20 local authorities in 2018 with the largest sums of more than £2.9m going to Sheffield, Manchester, the West Midlands, and West Yorkshire. Other large pots of around £2.5m went to Liverpool and Coventry with smaller £1m sums to Bristol, Leicester, and London. Grants around the half-a-million pound mark went to Essex, Gateshead, Newcastle, Oxford and South Tyneside.

The plan will see 1,817 buses retrofitted with clean emissions technology and it will extend funding for projects which have already previously received funding, extending the work local authorities have already begun on such schemes.

It follows the 2017 plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which sets out in detail how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions must take action. The Government is working closely with 61 local authorities who have legal duties to tackle air pollution – with an overall funding pot of £495m to assist – with studies and plans needing to be applied by the end of 2019.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “We all know that air pollution is the top environmental risk to health in the UK. Nitrogen dioxide emissions must be lowered if we want to ensure cleaner and healthier air across the country.

“Local authorities are the best placed to introduce systems that work for their areas, which is why we are working closely with them to ensure they have the appropriate funding and support.”

Transport minister Jesse Norman said the investment would allow for “continued acceleration of low emission buses” with the aim of creating a 100% low emission bus fleet in England and Wales.

Clean buses

There have been a number of initiatives to help with clean bus technology, including most recently the Government purchasing 263 new ultra-low emission buses in February, doubling the UK’s existing e-bus stock.

The £48m funding into new vehicles and infrastructure across seven towns and cities across the country. Under the scheme, companies across the transport sector in these regions will be tasked with designing and installing technologies which not only reduce air pollution and carbon emissions but help to champion social sustainability as well.

Last year, mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched a series of 12 low emission bus zones (LEBZs) across London, in a drive to tackle the city’s air pollution problem.

Since the launch of the zones, Putney High Street has breached legal air pollution limits for just two hours during 2018, compared to 807 hours in 2017. The move has also led to air quality improvements in Brixton, with Brixton Road seeing an 85% reduction in hours pollution exceeds legal limits since 2016.

The bus funding forms part of the Government’s overall Clear Air Strategy and Road to Zero plan, which aims to drastically reduce the level of emissions from public transport on the nation’s roads, especially in heavily used urban areas.

James Evison

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