Phase three of Scotland’s Bus Emission Abatement Retrofit (BEAR) scheme now offers grant funding for up to 95% of the cost of CVRAS-accredited Euro VI retrofit technology for eligible coaches and buses, Transport Scotland has announced.

It estimates that the money will allow around 500 vehicles to be upgraded. £8.857m is already available through the fund for the 2020/21 financial year. Applications opened on 16 July and will close on 6 August.

The 95% grant threshold covers capital costs of the retrofitted technology. It also captures the costs of the mandatory telematics equipment and data supply and a warranty for the emissions reduction package, each for five years.

Transport Scotland has negotiated with the European Commission to increase the generosity of BEAR phase three by enabling a higher state aid grant.

The funding is available to coach and bus operators that are located in, or operate eligible vehicles on routes within, cities that are part of Scotland’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) programme (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow), and/or one of the country’s 38 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).

Successful applicants can access funding towards combined primary and ancillary costs for Euro VI retrofit up to a maximum of £3.1m per bidder. Bids are also capped at an average of £19,000 per coach or bus per applicant

To be eligible, vehicles must be less than 13 years old at the time the application is submitted and meet Euro IV or Euro V OEM standards. They are required to have been owned by the operator placing the bid for no less than 12 months. They must have a remaining service life within a Scottish AQMA or LEZ of at least five years.

As conditions of the scheme, operators will need to provide a statement outlining how services will be delivered in an LEZ and/or an AQMA. They will also be required to provide quarterly telematics reports on a variety of data, have a history of effective maintenance and agree to commit to an agreed maintenance cycle of the retrofit equipment.

Transport Scotland has produced comprehensive guidance for the scheme. It includes a list of all AQMAs and is accompanied by an application form and a grant calculator.