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Norfolk mulls over bid for millions to help get electric buses

PUBLISHED: 10:41 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:41 07 February 2020

First bus bosses are ready to invest in new vehicles. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

First bus bosses are ready to invest in new vehicles. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

Transport bosses are mulling over whether to bid for millions of pounds of government cash made available to set up a new fleet of electric buses.

Grant Shapps. Pic: Hannah McKay/PA WireGrant Shapps. Pic: Hannah McKay/PA Wire

The Department for Transport has announced that a £50m fund is available to help pay for a new fleet of up to 200 electric buses to cut emissions and boost air quality.

Councils are being invited to bid for the money, with the government looking to use the winning area as a model as it looks to ensure all buses are fully electric by 2025.

Norfolk County Council is waiting to hear if it has been successful in a bid for millions of pounds through the government's Transforming Cities scheme, but officers have previously signalled they are keen to tap into any other funding streams available.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "As the funding has just been announced, its too early to say, but this is certainly something we will explore as part of our wider transport strategy."

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Bosses at First had previously said, if the council's bid for up to £170m from the government's Transforming Cities pot is successful, they would pump millions into more than 50 new buses and almost 70 refurbished vehicles in and around Norwich.

But those vehicles would be diesel, rather than electric - which has led to criticism.

However, managing director Giles Fearnley, had said, in a letter supporting County Hall's bid for Transforming Cities cash that he was open to introducing electric vehicles if the company could get funding support.

He said: "In the case of the blue and pink lines, we would be interested in the potential for switching the proposed diesel investment for fully electric vehicles, subject to an assessment of suitability and the availability of additional funding for both the difference in cost between diesel and electric and the associated charging infrastructure, such as the Green Bus Fund."

The creation of an all-electric bus town is one of a series of measures to improve services and make them greener through the government's £170m fund.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: "Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK, and with 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions."

MORE: The multi-million pound projects which could transform transport in Norwich


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