From:                                             Sustainability West Midlands <>

Sent:                                               28 May 2020 11:40

To:                                                  Alan Carr

Subject:                                         SWM Newsletter May 2020 - Could the pandemic spell the end of rural bus services?


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Sustainability West Midlands

SWM News May 2020 -  Could the pandemic spell the end of rural bus services?

Many of us working in the sustainability sector have been thinking about how the Coronavirus pandemic could impact sustainability, including those associated with our West Midlands 2030 Roadmap. Some of the positives to come out of this devastating situation are environmental, for example with the announcement that globally, emissions have dropped by a record-breaking 17%.

However, one of the biggest challenges we potentially face as an environmental movement post-Covid-19 is encouraging people to use already dwindling public transport options in rural areas. The BBC reported just before the lockdown began that cuts that had already happened to rural bus routes had left a million people in the UK without a regular service. I have had personal experience of this issue where I live in the north of the region. Since the pandemic, these services have, understandably, almost ceased entirely.

The Government’s response to the decline in rural bus options before the pandemic was to launch the Rural Mobility Fund and the Support Bus Services Fund which represents a positive step, but the pandemic is a potential game changer. The West Midlands is very rural and, to achieve our Roadmap objectives associated with clean and active travelair quality and carbon reduction, investment in rural public transport has to happen. But even if it does, encouraging our rural, often more vulnerable members of the population to travel on perceived unreliable health hazards anytime soon could be one of our biggest net zero challenges yet.

We are keen to learn of any examples that you are aware of where a rural bus service has thrived, including how and why, so get in touch if you can share any good practice.

Read a full version of the above comment here.

Let me conclude by drawing your attention to a webinar we are running with our members Mott MacDonald on 16 June, where we will explore how the SDGs can be used to enhance the case for investment and contribute to more effective stakeholder dialogue, leading to more sustainable outcomes related to our Roadmap. Join us if you can.

Stay safe and best wishes

Alan Carr, Senior Sustainability Adviser, on behalf of the Sustainability West Midlands Team

Funding Opportunities

  • By 31 May 2020. Over the next five years, Cadent Foundation will be awarding £20+ million of grants to charities and community groups to support projects that make a real difference.
  • By 4 June 2020. The rural mobility fund is part of the government's better deal for bus users fund,  the deadline for which has been extended from the 30 April. 
  • By 8 June 2020. A collaborative R&D competition is focusing on low carbon vehicle technology, with emphasis on electrification, energy efficiency and lightweight vehicle structures.
  • By 10 June 2020. UKRI's Embedded Researcher scheme is inviting UK based academic researchers to apply for placements at non-academic host organisations and support of £70K.
  • By 15 June 2020. ICLEI Action Fund will grant up to €350,000 to institutes across Europe to develop environmental projects.
  • By 30 June 2020. National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50million fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • By 1 July 2020. Innovate UK is investing up to £30m in innovation projects as part of phase 2 of the ISCF Future Flight Challenge, a four year £125m programme.
  • By 8 July 2020. Up to £30 million is available to support growth in advanced low carbon propulsion capability in the automotive sector.
  • By 19 October 2020. The MCS Charitable Foundation is making funding available for a range of projects that accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and low carbon technologies.
  • By 30 June 2021. The Worcestershire Natural Networks project aims to boost biodiversity in an ERDF-funded venture which includes our members Worcestershire County Council.
  • By 31 December 2021. Businesses in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent can benefit from free energy audits and 60% grant funding towards energy efficiency measures.
  • By 31 December 2021. Marches Renewable Energy Grant Scheme allows eligible applicants to apply for a 50% grant for the installation of renewable technologies. 
  • By 31 December 2022. GBSLEP Habitats Grants Programme is still open and is focused on reducing dereliction and the improvement and development of natural habitats. 
  • By June 2023. Coventry City Council has extended a further £8.1 million of funding to support small and medium sized business in Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • By 2025. The Severn Trent Community Fund is temporarily closed until summer 2020, while some of the fund is re-aligned to support charities directly affected by coronavirus.
  • Monthly. Monthly themed funding is available for Birmingham based projects that aim to deliver positive change.  
  • On-going. A New Bounce Back Loans scheme give Britain’s small businesses a chance to apply for quick and easy-to access loans of up to £50,000 to help get through the pandemic.
  • On-going. The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is a £10 million programme which supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects.
  • On-going. The Community and Environment Fund is to provide benefits to communities along the route disrupted by the construction of HS2.
  • On-going. BEIS funding of around £162 million is available for industrial research and innovation, including Carbon Capture, Use and Storage.
  • On-going. The UK Government is encouraging applications to the Urban Tree Challenge fund, which has £10 million available for the planting of trees in urban areas of England. 
  • On-going. Community Led Homes funding is available to groups at every stage of the community led housing journey up to when the project is completed.

Over the past year we have promoted >£900 million of accessible funding.

Upcoming SWM and Member Events

Due to the current restrictions on travel and work as a result of coronavirus, some events may be subject to cancellation or rescheduling. SWM do not organise these events and we urge you to keep a close eye on our events page for any updates.

  • SWM and Mott MacDonald will explore on 16 June how the SDGs can be used to enhance the case for investment and contribution to better stakeholder dialogue on sustainability. 
  • The Energy Research Accelerator is running workshop webinars throughout the summer which will cover Energy Storage, Heat, and Low Carbon Alternative Fuels. 
  • Severn Trent is running a Meet the Funder event on 9 June with Get Grants who are eager to discuss the new support they are offering to charities and non-profit organisations.
  • Cenex's annual LCV event is on 9 and 10 September in Millbrook and sales are now open for exhibitors. Demand for space is already extremely high, so secure your stand now.
  • SWM will be exhibiting at RWM, the UK’s largest trade show for recycling and waste management, taking place on 16 & 17 September.
  • SWM is supporting Solar & Storage Live, the UK’s largest renewables expo taking place 15–17 September, including over 520 participations at the event’s Innovation Zone.
  • The Environment Agency will convene its annual Flood & Coast conference on 8-10 December in Telford, tackling the challenges of flood risk, resilience and response in a changing climate.

A full list of upcoming events is available here as well as our full member list here.

Other SWM and Member Updates 

  • SWM welcome new members Accelar, who help accelerate the clean growth transition in the West Midlands, and Place Partnership, who provides Energy Management and BMS services.
  • SWM bid a fond farewell and good wishes to our Volunteer Communications Officer Jordan Bird, who leaves us after nine months to continue his Geography studies at Coventry University.
  • SWM has launched a new SWM Members-only Forum! To gain access, join us as a member.
  • SWM has published new case studies of our recent work with the City of Wolverhampton Council, Heritage Fund and the Midlands Energy Hub.
  • Coventry City Council is recruiting for a Stakeholder Engagement Manager to lead on a local energy partnership project. Deadline is 7 June.
  • SHAP, who provide leadership and opportunities concerning sustainable housing issues in the West Midlands, have opportunities to join their Board. The opportunity closes on 30 May.
  • Ecuity and SHAP are inviting people to join their USER Project, which is exploring how hot water cylinders can be made available in all homes.
  • Ecuity is supporting GBSLEP to coordinate the WM Low Carbon Steering Group to advise on delivery of the Low Carbon and Environmental Technologies Action Plan.
  • Energy Systems Catapult is launching an Innovator Challenge call for SMEs developing Low Carbon Interoperable Energy Solutions, in collaboration with Climate-KIC.
  • Keele University is looking to commission 25 opportunities with Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire SMEs for the delivery of three-month RD&I projects linked to the SEND project.
  • Keele University has been ranked second in the West Midlands in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings which assess universities against the SDGs.
  • Keele University has made "significant progress" with €4 million research to develop Low Carbon Combustion Technology. 
  • West Midlands Combined Authority has launched a dedicated website providing the latest information for West Midlands businesses hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
  • West Midlands Combined Authority is launching a groundbreaking e-scooters trial to help get the region moving once lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.
  • West Midlands Combined Authority has given information on how to stay safe on public transport as lockdown restrictions begin to lift. 
  • West Midlands Combined Authority is committing to providing thousands of commuters with refunds on their season tickets through a new scheme.
  • West Midlands Combined Authority is looking for a new Travel Choices Specialist getting ready for Coventry City of Culture 2021 and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. 
  • Worcestershire County Council's Low Carbon Opportunities Programme and Business Energy Efficiency Programmes are still open for business
  • Bryt Energy understands that many businesses will be adapting their usual routines, but what can you do lessen the impact on your business from an energy perspective? Here are 5 top tips.
  • Cenex's Keith Budden looks at how you can keep your emissions down following the pandemic.
  • Innovation Alliance has come up with top tips to improve your Zoom calls; lets face it, we all need them!

SWM members can send their events, research or other contributions to to be included in the next newsletter. Not a member? There are many advantages to SWM membership; find out more here.

Other News and Events

  • Act TravelWise is running a free webinar on 18 June looking at Covid-19 impacts on transport emissions and air quality, based on air quality monitoring stations and other data.
  • The Green Gown Awards 2020 are inviting applications to recognise those education institutions, both large and small, that have made a difference. The deadline is now 9 September.
  • Midlands Energy Hub's Spring Newlstter brings together updates on all the low carbon energy news happening in our region. 
  • RSPB has expressed its concern in a letter to the PM to place the health and well-being of people and nature at the heart of the nation’s recovery from Covid-19.
  • EAUC is proud to partner the COP26 Universities Network, which has identified ten fiscal recovery policies which promise to bring both high economic impact and lower GHG emissions.
  • Birmingham City Council has launched its Emergency Transport Plan outlining plans for a wide range of measures to support walking, cycling and public transport across the city.
  • Birmingham City Council has been awarded £58,000 grant funding to run an e-cargo bike pilot scheme working with partners including SWM members Aston and Birmingham universities.

For a full list of all our upcoming events, visit our events page here. For news items, visit our news page here.

We hope you enjoyed reading our newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, are interested in becoming a member or have news stories, events, case studies and reports, please visit our website or contact us. In order to avoid this email going into spam, please add us to your contacts list.

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