Bus operators in Falkirk are being encouraged to make the most of a £1.6million Scottish Government initiative to help cut emissions.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the first phase of the Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit (BEAR) programme, which will breathe fresh life into older buses.

Successful applicants will receive up to £25,000 per bus or coach to cover the cost of retrofitting an exhaust kit that will reduce nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter emissions.

The funding is available to licensed operators, including community transport operators, in Scotland’s Air Quality Management Areas, which include Falkirk town centre.

Mr Matheson said: “Cutting bus emissions can play a big part in improving the air quality in our town centres, so this latest Scottish Government initiative to help make bus fleets across the country greener is welcome news.

“Some 360 new low-emission buses, including many hybrid-electric vehicles built by local firm Alexander Dennis, have already been introduced on our roads since 2010 thanks to the Scottish Green Bus Fund.

“BEAR now offers bus operators yet another route to make their existing fleets more environmentally friendly, so I hope local firms or community groups who are eligible will consider taking advantage of this Scottish Government funding.”

The Energy Saving Trust will administer the fund on behalf of Transport Scotland. The deadline for applications is Friday, February 23. For more information and guidance on how to apply, go to www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/bear