COUNCILS will be invited to bid for cash from a £560m Government fund for green local transport schemes under plans to be revealed today.
Officials at the Department for Transport are offering the cash over four years to try to convince more areas to adopt schemes like one Yorkshire Dales initiative where apprentices and trainees are offered the loan of a motorcycle to help them to take up local job offers.
A White Paper to be published today will also offer councils more freedom over transport priorities in their area.
Ministers are keen for the 560m fund to be used to cut carbon emissions and boost the economy, so it is likely to be directed at green projects which can also encourage growth.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "A good transport system is vital in our efforts to deliver two key government priorities: to help grow the economy and to reduce carbon emissions.
"Investment in local sustainable transport can deliver quick gains with both objectives, which is why, even in these difficult financial times, we are providing an unprecedented 560m to take this agenda forward.
"We are clear you can have your green cake and eat it. Money invested wisely in local transport initiatives can both help the economy and cut carbon. It's a win-win for local people and for the country as a whole.'
Competition for the funding is likely to be high because it will be split over four years, so councils will compete for a share of about 140m per year.
Today's White Paper – called Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon – will also set out more detail of freedoms for local authorities in setting transport priorities and cutting red tape in the wake of abolition of the regional tier of government.
The sort of "innovative" schemes Ministers are keen to encourage includes the Wheels to Work scheme in the Yorkshire Dales which helps youngsters into a job by allowing them to borrow motorcycles where they need one to get to work.