Lib Dem councillors in Newcastle are challenging the North East Combined Authority's transport portfolio holder, Newcastle council leader Nick Forbes, about why no bid was submitted by NECA or Nexus to the Department for Transport's Clean Bus Technology Fund.
The fund offers £500,000 grants to local authorities to allow the retrofitting of buses with "filters" that reduce NOx (nitrogen dioxide) pollution and improve air quality in urban areas, with Government stressing that the scheme is aimed at urban pollution hotspots.
However, Lib Dem research has identified that no bid was made before the October deadline by NECA or Nexus, despite both organisations claiming to be committed to greener public transport.
Newcastle Lib Dem transport spokesperson Cllr Greg Stone said:
"Although £500,000 is a relatively small amount, it could have helped to reduce the emissions of dozens of local buses. We already know that air quality in Newcastle is a concern, with the West Road being identified as having illegal levels of pollutants, and increasing congestion in other areas is likely to increase the problem. I am particularly disappointed that the opportunity to improve emissions on the 38 service using the congested West Road, city centre, and Cradlewell route was missed.
"We already have a number of electric and hybrid buses operating in the city, and I was proud to have helped to introduce the Quaylink electric bus fleet when the Lib Dems ran the council. However, the existing bus operator fleet still includes a lot of older vehicles that emit pollutants like nitrous oxide.
"Given controversy over the VW scandal, vehicle emissions and air quality are important issues for public health, and given Nick Forbes's professed ambitions to make Newcastle a carbon-zero city by 2050, it is frankly inexplicable that he, Nexus, and NECA have failed to take advantage of Government money to reduce emissions on buses in Newcastle and across Tyne and Wear. Liberal Democrats are calling him to account for his lack of action on this important matter."
Notes to editors:
Details of the DfT Clean Bus Fund can be found here: