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Government announces £40m funding to retrofit old buses

Thu 08 February 2018 | Back to news list | More bus news

The Government has announced that 20 local authorities will share £40m funding as part of the Clean Bus Technology Fund (CBTF). The support is based on the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme which was launched, with Government support by the LowCVP and EST in August 2017.

The scheme will allow councils to retrofit vehicles with technology to reduce tailpipe emissions of nitrogen dioxide, as part of a drive to help ensure that more buses and coaches can contribute to improving air quality in UK cities. The £40m funding will mean the retrofitting of more than 2,700 buses.

The CBTF was launched in 2017. It is run by the Joint (Defra/DfT) Air Quality Unit.

Speaking at the UK Bus Summit, Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani set out how the money will enable older vehicles to meet minimum emissions standards, and contribute to better air quality. The minister said: "Road transport is going to change dramatically over the next couple of decades – and we have to make sure that the bus industry is ready to benefit from those changes.

"We have to move away from nose-to-tail car traffic at peak times, endless engine idling, stop-start travel and rising pollution and carbon emissions. Rather than contributing to the problem – buses and coaches very much form part of the solution."

In August 2017, the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) was launched after being developed jointly by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) and the Energy Saving Trust (EST) together with industry stakeholders through funding and support from the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU). By providing a single standard for any emission technology to be validated to meet the standards set out in the Government’s Clean Air Zone Framework for England, the scheme enables the existing fleet of urban vehicles (initially buses, but extending rapidly to a wide range of vehicles) to be fitted with proven emission control solutions. The scheme is providing the backbone of retrofit funding, enabling the UK market to lead this important sector.

Commenting on the announcement, the LowCVP's Managing Director Andy Eastlake said: “The CBTF funding shows the commitment that the Government is making to help bus operators deliver the cleanest fleets through retrofitting existing vehicles and supporting for introduction of new Low Emission and Ultra Low Emission Buses. 

"Importantly the CVRAS scheme, developed by the LowCVP and EST, provides the confidence that these technologies will really deliver the clean vehicles both under test and in service."

The LowCVP has collaborated with the Department for Transport, DEFRA, Transport for London and Transport Scotland to ensure that the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London, Clean Air Zones in England and Wales and Low Emission Zones in Scotland all require the same emission standards for different vehicles types. In short, if a vehicle is eligible for a Low Emission Zone in Scotland, it will also be able to access the ULEZ and CAZs in England and Wales (Euro 4 petrol car, Euro 6 diesel car & van, Euro VI for heavy duty vehicles). However, this does not relate to additional charges such as the congestion zone or T-charge.

In 2016, the Government invested £30 million through the Low Emission Bus Scheme, which helped put over 300 new low emission buses on the roads, with a further £11 million and 150 buses being announced in 2017.

The Scottish Government recently announced it had £1.6m to award to local authorities to support retrofit of buses, with the money to be awarded prior to April 2018. Further support for retrofitted and the implementation of Low Emission Zones in Scotland is expected in the coming years. 

The £40m CBTF funding has been divided into £20m for 2017-18 and £20m in 2018-19 as shown in the table below:

Clean Bus Technology Fund 2017 to 2019 winners

Local Authority

Number of buses




West Yorkshire Combined Authority





Bristol City Council





Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council





Leeds City Council





Transport for West Midlands





Leicester City Council





Oxford City Council





Coventry City Council





Nottinghamshire County Council





Transport for Greater Manchester





North Tyneside Council





Nottingham City Council





Transport for London





Sheffield City Council





Sefton Council





Southampton City Council





Derby City Council





Essex County Council





South Tyneside Council





Newcastle City Council











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