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Charities call for Scottish alternative to Osborne’s Roads Fund

Published 20 July 2015 by Colin Howden

Embargoed for use: 00:01, Monday 20 July 2015


Seven charities have called for a Scottish alternative to the Roads Fund for England, which was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Summer Budget 2015, and will see Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – a tax on pollution – spent exclusively on motorways and major trunk A-roads from 2020.

During his budget statement, Chancellor Osborne said that the UK Government would “engage with the Devolved Administrations on how the money is allocated there.”

In a letter to the Scottish Government, Transform Scotland, Sustrans Scotland, WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, Paths for All and Living Streets Scotland have called for “an approach which reflects Scotland’s world-leading ambition on climate change”.

The charities have called for revenue raised from VED to be spent on (1) infrastructure to increase walking and cycling; (2) better integration of sustainable transport modes (bus, rail, walking and cycling), and (3) a repair fund for the existing local road network and footways.

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“Vehicle Excise Duty is a tax on pollution, but the UK Government’s plan in England will see it used to increase traffic and pollution. We have an opportunity to do things differently in Scotland. Investing in a repair fund for our footways and local roads – where most everyday journeys are actually made – will benefit pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike, without increasing road capacity.”    

John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland, said:

“It is good that in Scotland we have clear government support for walking and cycling. We’ve made big strides but there’s much still to do. Continued investment in cycling and walking, and better integration of active travel with public transport, will enable more people to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys, while reducing congestion and making Scotland’s communities more attractive and liveable places.”

Lang Banks, WWF Scotland Director said:

“With climate emissions from transport stuck at 1990 levels, Scottish Ministers have the ideal opportunity to think smarter about how they’ll spend the money raised from Vehicle Excise Duty. If spent wisely on infrastructure that supports alternatives to the car, such as walking and cycling, the Scottish Government could deliver the double win of improving public health and helping to achieve its world leading climate ambitions.”



[1] The Summer Budget 2015 ‘Red Book’ (p. 56) states: “1.251 From 2020-21 the government guarantees that all revenue raised from VED in England will be allocated to a new Roads Fund and invested directly back into the strategic road network.” The ‘Strategic Road Network’ in England consists of motorways and major ‘trunk’ A-roads.

[2] The Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (1994) ‘Trunk Roads and the Generation of Traffic’ (1994, p.205): “Is induced traffic a real phenomena? Considering all the sources of evidence, our answer is that induced traffic can and does occur, possibly quite extensively, through its size and significance are likely to vary widely in different circumstances.”

[3] Transport Scotland statistics show that 62% of journeys are on non-trunk roads (non-trunk A roads, B, C an unclassified roads), while 38% of journeys in Scotland in 2012 were on trunk roads (Motorways and trunk A roads).

[4] A poll commissioned by Transform Scotland and carried out by Scotpulse (fieldwork – 9-11 May 2014; sample – 1,086 respondents) found that 84% of respondents agree that the Scottish Government should give priority to fixing the existing road network before building new roads.