ELECTRIC buses may soon be introduced in Barrow, as over £1 million is made available for new transport improvements in Cumbrian towns.

The new money - which will come in two separate instalments this year - was announced earlier this week by the county council.

Part of it will be spent on temporary measures aimed at facilitating social distancing - set to be implemented in Barrow and other Cumbrian towns over the coming weeks.

This coincides with the further easing of lockdown restrictions starting this week.

County councillors, however, refused to disclose the amount of money earmarked specifically for Barrow.

The first allocation of funds is aimed at bringing in the initial temporary measures, such as painted road signs and walking routes in towns across the county.

The second tranche, a considerably larger sum of around £900,000, is expected to be available in around three months’ time.

Tomorrow, the county council is expected to put forward proposals concerning what will be done with the first tranche of government funds.

A committee for Barrow will decide how the money is to be spent once the Department for Transport has reviewed the council’s plans.

Cllr Keith Little, cabinet member for highways and transport at the county council, told The Mail that electric buses would be considered as one potential investment option once the second tranche of funds is released.

Cllr Little confirmed some of the measures are to be implemented ‘with an eye on climate change’ to ‘help reduce congestion and improve air quality in Cumbria’.

“There are already 500 miles of cycle routes across the county - and 50 miles within those 500 miles that are car-free,” he said.

Environmental groups in south Cumbria have been lobbying local authorities to ensure as much of the £1.1 million as possible goes towards green projects.

Environmental group XR Furness has welcomed the plan for electric buses.

A spokesperson from the group said: "We fully support the council's plans here - the benefits of which would be almost instantaneous to local air pollution levels.

"Obviously this will cut both CO2 and toxic exhaust emissions.

"Hopefully it might also be a step towards getting people out of cars, which will be necessary to limit the worst effects of the climate emergency.

"And there's not enough time for all the cars in the country to become electric, so public transport will become increasingly important."

"If the public transport system becomes more affordable this could result in a huge overall drop in the town's pollution rates.

"Not only this, but if the no-tail-pipe-emissions transport is supported by green energy - similar to that produced off our own coast - it could make Barrow a pioneering town of ecological sustainability.

"This would be a really positive move for our district towards a greener future."