Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council is looking to partner with transport and logistics operators to trial solutions for low carbon consumer home delivery.

As part of its Low Carbon Future Mobility project, the council’s initial focus will be on grocery, parcel and takeaway deliveries which it says have been accelerated by the impact of Covid-19.

It has up to £3m of match-funding available to support, and de-risk, innovative interventions and is now looking to engage with the transport industry to identify opportunities and rapidly develop plans. Funding may also be available for smaller 'proof-of-concept' trails.

The solutions that are put forward by potential partners will be evaluated against sustained trip reduction and alignment with the strategic aims of the national Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

The project team have identified a shortlist of three local areas to target interventions, based on their high propensity to generate trips.

“We’re looking to engage potential commercial partners to design and deliver innovative trials relating to consumer goods delivery,” explained Solihull council’s future mobility project manager Colin Maltby.

“This is an opportunity for companies to test new ideas that offer low carbon delivery solutions. Trials may include new infrastructure, vehicles, services or technology platforms. Funding is available and the council is proactively seeking to engage over the next month to develop plans.

“We're working to demonstrate how the council can harness new and emerging technology and services to either reduce, share or ‘green’ trips across the borough. If we can break into last mile solutions we’d be really interested. It's all about discovering new services and new markets.

"We want to hear what’s next in people’s plans and to potentially develop those plans – and wearing our local authority hat anything we can do to make them zero emission is massively in our interests. We're at a stage where we want to listen to your ideas and see what we can do to get them off the ground."

Maltby urged operators to get in touch with innovative, tech-led solutions, even if they remained at the planning stage.

“We’re not just blindly getting excited about the latest cutting edge technology," he said. "We want operators to come back and say, ‘we’ve got a really ultra-effective way to consolidate a lot of trips and it’s based on x, y and z.' That’s great and we’ll still talk to you. We’re not just desperately trying to have robots roaming the streets of Solihull. It’s exciting and interesting stuff but the jury is still out on how applicable it will be. It’s all about the output - can we reduce carbon? Can we reduce trips?

"It's not enough for everyone to just transition to electric vehicles because, at the rate we’e going, we’ll just have roads chock full of them. We’re looking at the next step, where we get efficiencies in trips as well and we’re really open to supporting ideas and interventions in that space."