FUNDING to develop Very Light Rail technology in Dudley has been officially confirmed by the government.

Dudley Council chiefs have welcomed written confirmation that the government will contribute nearly £13m to get the project back on track.

It comes after council leader Patrick Harley, backed by Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and West Midlands Combined Authority, urged ministers to step in to meet the funding shortfall.

Councillor Harley wrote to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP in June to say the whole scheme, which includes plans for a test track and National Innovation Centre at Castle Hill, was “under threat” unless the cash could be found.

Last month the secretary of state said the project would be included in the region’s Getting Building Fund.

This week Simon Clarke MP, the minister for regional growth and local government, wrote to Councillor Harley to confirm the funding and praised the project as "exciting and innovative".

Councillor Harley has now received a letter confirming the news, which will see the government contribute £12.35 million towards the shortfall, with the balance of funding required coming from the Black Country LEP.

Welcoming the news, councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council said: “It is fantastic to get this news confirmed in writing this week.

"The Very Light Rail Test Track and National Innovation Centre is a key project for our borough. It will offer an innovative and exciting opportunity to provide lower cost local rail connectivity, encouraging shift from private vehicles towards public transport.

"The world’s eyes will be on Dudley as we develop very light rail, a project which will revolutionise light rail technology globally.

"With the money confirmed, I’m looking forward to this project moving quickly through to delivery."