£1.3m Welsh Government’s Transformation Fund to Assist CCR Ambition

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At its latest meeting on June 4 2020, the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority (RTA), which comprises elected transport portfolio leads from the ten local authorities in South-East Wales, has announced notification of its successful application for a share of the Welsh Government (WG) Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Transformation Fund.

The award, which at £1.3m, constitutes the highest award made in Wales, follows a bid made by Merthyr Council in February 2020 on behalf of the CCR, to assist with the delivery of electric vehicle infrastructure for public use, taxis and private hire specific, and buses at various locations, including transport hubs throughout the region.

This funding, being made available through WG, is intended to assist the WG transform the network to ULEV and help reach their targets of zero emissions from buses and taxis by 2028.

Award Criteria and Management

The conditions mandate that the £1.3m award to the CCR is used as follows:

  • £1,040,000 for Taxi ULEV Infrastructure
  • £100k for Bus ULEV Infrastructure at the new Merthyr bus station
  • £100k to prepare a full business case to deliver ULEV Infrastructure at transport interchanges; and
  • £56k for EV Roadshow with Drive and Ride Opportunities.

All monies must be deployed by the end of the 2020/2021 financial year.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council will be the lead authority and will manage the ULEV

Transformation Fund. It is anticipated that a Project Manager will be seconded into the City Deal

Office to deliver the work packages and to facilitate sustained momentum in progressing the regional programme.

Benefits to the Region

The progression of the ULEV initiatives and associated funding is a big step forward in the ambitions for not only improving the transport infrastructure of the Cardiff Capital Region but also for the reduction in emissions and noise pollution and the knock on benefits of improvements in biodiversity in the region.  By delivering regionally, it will ensure that operationally, the end user will have a uniform process for using charging infrastructure across all 10 Local Authorities, with payment methods and infrastructure being dependable and user friendly. Initiatives such as these will help Wales play a full part in tackling climate change and the CCR will work with the other regions within Wales to try to ensure comparable and compatible infrastructure throughout Wales.

Further next steps will include the consideration of renewable energy and digital required to truly embrace the zero emissions agenda and the new technologies that could be developed to future proof the project in line with the Well-being and Future Generations Act and vision.

Incentivisation

With lower operating costs than conventionally fuelled vehicles, transitioning to a ULEV vehicle is likely to make long term economic sense for taxi drivers. However given the revenue challenges experienced in recent times the capital cost of transition is likely to prove challenging. Although Merthyr CBC also applied for funding to incentivise taxis and community transport to take up ULEVs, it is recognised that this may be better delivered on a wider national basis and therefore funding has yet to be awarded to the region. Accordingly, there was consensus within the RTA that further collaborations and engagement should take place with WG to explore a way forward to deliver the aspirations to offer such incentives through this fund and through the financial transaction fund that is also being made available. This could enable taxi, private hire, and community transport and bus companies to accelerate the transition from diesel to ULEVs.

This will also ensure that monies spent on creating the electric infrastructure is accompanied with incentives that help sustain a modal shift toward ULEV usage.

Councillor Huw David, Chair of the CCR Transport Authority, and Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said:

“The CCR aims to be an exemplar in Wales to help drive the nation forward, and this funding will go a long way to support this ambition. It will help to put the region on a pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with taxis and buses accelerated much earlier in line with WG’s 2028 target. Stating an ambition for the CCR to become an exemplar region for ULEVs will help attract investment in recharging and refuelling infrastructure, and will in turn create the conditions for high rates of ULEV uptake.

“The CCR is well placed to benefit from a shift to ULEVs over the next 10 years and beyond and is doing all it can to deliver on our regional ULEV strategy and our aspirations for the future of transport throughout the CCR and wider surrounding areas in Wales. This will benefit not only our residents, but our visitors and neighbours alike.

“The delivery of this programme will help us realise our vision for the future of transport, accelerate our transition to ULEV usage and sustain real behavioural change.”

Kellie Beirne Director CCR City Deal said:

“More excellent news for transport infrastructure in the Cardiff Capital Region. We have a real opportunity here to lead the way, to make a difference and set the standard for Wales. We need growth to be in clean, green energy, and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that all funding is able to facilitate real change in behaviours, new norms and not perpetuate a status quo.”