North Tyneside council is to spend £1.2m of Defra grant money to retrofit 69 buses in the borough with technology designed to reduce emissions.
The council confirmed the grant in its cabinet meeting earlier this week, which comes after the council was instructed to take action to address air pollution along an 800m stretch of the Coast Road at North Tyneside’s boundary with Newcastle which is expected to exceed legal nitrogen dioxide limits until at least 2020.
Since the government’s NO2 plan in 2017, the council say it has been working with Defra and neighbouring authorities to find the best way to reduce pollution levels.
The council found that 13% of nitrogen dioxide emitted in the area comes from buses, and expect new emissions technology to bring pollution levels on the stretch into allowed limits.
Commenting on the grant, Cllr Carl Johnson, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Although there is only a small area in North Tyneside affected, we have identified the main source of pollution as buses and have taken positive steps to address it by securing this funding.”
Cllr Johnson added: “The funding will allow the relevant bus operators, Go North East, Stagecoach and Arriva, to make engine improvements to reduce emissions and bring the stretch of the Coast Road into compliance.”
The council say it will continue to work with neighbouring authorities in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside to ensure consistency in the funding they have received to be passed onto bus operators in these areas.
The funding will be distributed to the bus operators on a ‘back-to-back’ basis in order to indemnify the Authority against any liability, under the terms of the Defra grant.
The terms of the deal require the qualifying bus operators to monitor the delivery and outcomes of the project, and provide the authority with information to enable it to prepare reporting information to Defra on the numbers of buses retrofitted in the previous quarter.