A programme to cut congestion, improve health and boost the economy by promoting alternatives to car use has been given the green light for the North East.

Go Smarter, which encourages people to explore and use sustainable modes of transport, has secured an extra £2.34million of funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) to continue the work for another year.

It means the programme, which has previously operated throughout Tyne and Wear and Northumberland since 2011, will be extended into County Durham and align with the North East Combined Authority (NECA) area.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said: “Green transport cuts congestion and improves air quality. It also offers the cheapest and healthiest way for people to access jobs and education.

“The North East’s green travel scheme will make a real difference for residents and help provide better air quality for everyone. Our £21m funding across England shows we are committed to improving lives through investment in sustainable transport.”

Proving good transport that creates economic growth, sustains jobs and communities in the region is one of NECA’s biggest challenges. Go Smarter can now do this by promoting and encouraging the use of sustainable transport that is easy to use, reliable, and affordable.

Cllr Nick Forbes, who is responsible for transport on NECA said: “The move towards sustainable methods of transport on the daily commute and school run is testament to success of Go Smarter over the last five years.

“It is great news that this funding has been secured. It will strengthen NECA’s commitment to support economic growth, equality of opportunity and good access to workplaces, as well as contribute to better air quality and reduced emissions.”

The funding will also allow the successful Schools Go Smarter programme to be extended into schools in Durham, and compliment other projects that have already secured different sources of funding.

The Go Smarter to Work business engagement programme will also be expanded, focusing on the key employment sites served by the A1 Western Bypass and A19 corridor, key employment sites in Durham and other locations in Northumberland.

And building on these successes, job-seekers will now also be actively encouraged to adopt these travel choices when travelling to jobs, education and training through the new Go Smarter into Employment and Training.