ECO-friendly firms in Bolton are being encouraged to follow in the tyre tracks of defence contractor MBDA after the government relaxed bike to work regulations.

Employees are no longer restricted to a £1,000 cap when it comes to taking part in the green commuting initiative.

And the former De Havilland site at Lostock, which opened up a new advanced manufacturing facility last year, unveiled by then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, has been involved with bike to work schemes for more than a decade.

Plans are already in place to recruit more than 500 people across their UK sites, which also includes plants in Bristol and Stevenage.

Industry experts say the policy shift is timely as prices for the top models have increased significantly, and could enable the purchase of more e-bikes and safety equipment.

Danielle Fenn, from MBDA’s benefits division, believes that the scheme is one reason why the company, has been named in the Sunday Times Top 25 places to work in the UK.

She added: “We’ve been offering the Cycle to Work scheme for well over a decade now, so that employees have the opportunity to obtain a bike for commuting to work and to use in their leisure time too.

“The scheme has received really positive feedback and there has regularly been a good uptake of employees selecting this particular benefit.”

Free financing is on offer so workers can split the cost of a bike over 12 months, alongside other tax and National Insurance incentives. The plans is now to double the spending cap to £2,000.

Lawrence Boon, of Cyclescheme director at the Hawk Incentive, the country’s largest bike to work provider, added: “Bike prices have significantly increased since the scheme began, almost 20 years ago, meaning that many people cannot afford an adequate bike for their commute.

“Not only will this be welcomed by existing cyclists but it also opens up the scheme to those who may be disabled, disadvantaged or even those who are older – as suitable bikes for many of these groups are more expensive.”