Electric vehicles set to rise in the West of England following £7.5million funding boost

The West of England is set to boost its number of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs), including electric, after being awarded a grant of £7m from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Andrew Jones, Under Secretary of State for Transport, visited Bristol today to announce that the four West of England authorities’ bid for Go Ultra Low Cities government funding had been successful.

It is to be used to spark a large uptake in ULEV vehicle use in the region, which covers vehicles that produce 75 grams of carbon dioxide or less per kilometre, including electric and plug in hybrid.

All four authorities plan to use the funding to convert 20 – 25 per cent of their light vehicles to ULEVs, which will result in massive savings on fuel bills as well as a huge reduction in the harmful emissions being pumped into the region’s airspace.

Andrew Jones, Under Secretary of State for Transport, said: “We are determined to maintain international leadership on the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles. I look forward to seeing the winning ideas for greener, cheaper cars in action.

“This funding for eco-cities is part of our £500 million funding programme over the next five years to support British industry and achieve our ambition of almost every car, bus and van in the UK being ultra low emission by 2050.”

The bid was submitted in partnership with Business West and 35 West of England employers have committed to invest in 100 ULEVs by 2020.

The funding is set to be used to double the number of charging points in the region to 400 and increase the number of ULEVs being registered in the region to 5,000 per year by 2020.

It will also fund multi-modal charging hubs that are to be built at the University of the West of England and North Somerset.

There are also plans to establish 50 new ULEV car clubs and the authorities will be working with business and supermarkets to encourage them to switch to ULEVs and build more charge points.

The creation of a low emission area in Bristol city centre will also be investigated.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Air quality is one of the most serious health issues in our urban areas and I am absolutely determined to reduce pollution as part of my goal to make Bristol one of the most liveable cities in the world.

“I strongly support the introduction of more electric and ultra low emission vehicles to bring us closer to achieving that and add to the region’s growing reputation as a laboratory for change.

“The transition of council fleet vans and cars to electric also means that as a council we are leading by example, with the benefit of major reductions in fuel costs and pollution.

“I’m delighted that the Department for Transport has been able to support our innovative and ambitious plans with this funding, which will make a significant addition to the lasting impact of Bristol’s highly successful year as European Green Capital in 2015.”

Councillor Tim Warren, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The success of this bid for government funding is great news and will allow us to continue our work to reduce road traffic emissions, which impact on air quality and the health of our residents.

“As a council we’ve already started greening our fleet which reduces our vehicle running costs at the same time as improving air quality. This scheme will enable us to further develop the potential of ultra-low emission vehicles, focussing particularly on the three Air Quality Management Areas of Bath, Saltford and Keynsham.”

Cllr Colin Hunt, Chair of South Gloucestershire Council’s Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment Committee and Joint Transport Executive Committee Board, said: We are delighted that the West of England councils have been successful in securing a multi-million pound investment for the Go Ultra Low City Scheme.

“We are fully committed to reducing the carbon impact of our transport system, and improving the air quality within our communities.

“By increasing the number of low emission vehicles within our own vehicle fleets and across our communities, today’s announcement is a major boost to helping us achieve these commitments.”

Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: “The award of this grant is fantastic news for the West of England and North Somerset.

“As a partnership we have an excellent track record of sustainable travel initiatives and this will enable us to deliver more innovative schemes so that ULEVs are seen as a real, viable travel solution.

“The Go Ultra Low Cities funding gives us the opportunity to build on work already taking place in North Somerset by increasing the number of ULEVS on our roads and developing the charging infrastructure, benefiting our residents, the business community and the environment.”

James Durie, Executive Director for Business West, said: “With the eyes of the world on Bristol, the Go Ultra Low City Scheme is a fantastic opportunity for the city to become an international ambassador for ultra-low emission vehicles, showcasing its opportunity and desire to transform people’s quality of life and to build a stronger, more resilient economy.”

Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low, said: “We’re excited to see the innovative ideas put forward by Bristol become reality over the coming months.

“The £7 million funding by government, combined with local investment, will transform the roads for residents around the West of England.

“With thousands more plug-in cars set to be sold locally, cutting running costs for motorists and helping the environment, this investment will help Bristol gain recognition as one of the most sustainable transport cities in Europe.

“Initiatives such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone, allowing electric vehicles to use high occupancy lanes and community demonstrator cars for public testing are sure to appeal to drivers and inspire other UK cities and local authorities to invest in the electric revolution.”

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