Over £9.75 million has been awarded by the Scottish Government to 19 bus and coach operators so that they can retrofit 594 vehicle exhausts in 2020/21.
Scottish businesses who specialise in exhaust retrofitting will also benefit – helping to drive a green recovery out of the COVID-19 crisis, whilst improving air quality and supporting the Programme for Government commitment to introduce Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s four biggest cities.
The accredited retrofit technology helps reduce nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions from older buses and coaches through the installation of specialist exhaust technology by accredited providers. These retrofits will achieve the latest Euro VI standard, which is the equivalent to emissions from a modern diesel bus. Transport Scotland and Energy Saving Trust will also be monitoring emissions performance from the retrofitted vehicles to ensure they perform effectively over time.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “The Bus Emission Abatement Retrofit Fund benefits Scottish retrofit businesses, our wider bus sector and helps protect public health. It’s a high-impact fund which provides a powerful combination of immediate economic stimulus to our valued bus and coach sector and supply chain, whilst supporting our strategic air quality objectives by helping operators to comply with forthcoming Low Emission Zones.
“Each fully occupied bus in our towns and cities can remove the equivalent of 75 cars from the road. That is why buses are part of the solution to tackling congestion, improving air quality and reducing transport emissions – and it is why we are also funding bus priority infrastructure and providing additional support through our Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme for greener and cleaner buses.
“For the lifespan of the current fleet, retrofitting offers immediate air quality benefits, making the vehicles compliant with the proposed emission standards of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones – which are vital in our efforts to protect public health from the harmful effects of air pollution in our city centres.”
Stewart McLean, Managing Director of Driveline – a business based in Grangemouth and a supplier of the accredited exhaust retrofit technology said: “This is a great opportunity for Driveline to help Scottish operators improve their emissions and demonstrate the successful Euro VI product lines that Driveline now offers to the world.”
Meanwhile, Claire McVicar, Environmental Officer at Lothian Buses said: “We are fully committed to improving air quality across all our operations in Edinburgh and The Lothians through our ambitious Bus2020 strategy, in line with the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Targets. We are therefore delighted to receive this substantial funding contribution from the Scottish Government to assist us in achieving our environmental goals.
“Retrofitting a large number of vehicles will help us to continue to reduce our overall emissions and ensure that we are playing our part in improving the air quality in and around Edinburgh for the benefit of residents, workers and visitors to our capital city.”
The £9.75m builds on Bear Phase 2 funding which awarded £1.57m to retrofit 122 buses and coaches to Euro VI standard, and Bear Phase 1 for 42 buses and coaches.
The preparation of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones is already generating tangible air quality improvements by reducing harmful transport emissions.
In addition to three rounds of the BEAR Fund, The LEZ Support Fund made available targeted grant funding in 2019/20 of £1.09 million for taxis, heavy goods vehicles, and micro-businesses.
£4.5 million was made available through the Public Transport Provision Fund in 2019/20, to local authorities and regional transport partnerships, in order to establish LEZ related projects in their areas. In addition, over half a million pounds to local authorities to progress their LEZ designs.
Operators still have time to apply to the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. This year, the scheme will also provide £9 million to help bus operators invest in ultra-low emission vehicles. This initiative also provides economic stimulus, helping us move to a net zero economy whilst supporting air quality objectives.