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SNP-GREENS DEAL: Scaling-back of Scottish roads programme welcomed

Published 20 August 2021 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release: Friday 20 August 2021

SNP-GREENS DEAL:
Scaling-back of Scottish roads programme welcomed

Transform Scotland, the national sustainable transport alliance, [1] has today (Friday 20th) welcomed the “modest scaling back” of the Scottish roads programme, and the major spending commitment to active travel, announced as part of the SNP-Greens deal.

Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:

“This modest scaling back of the Scottish Government’s roads programme is long overdue. It’s simply not credible to claim to be tackling the Climate Emergency whilst prioritising new capital expenditure on high-carbon roads. [2] We’re pleased that the current set of Scottish Ministers are beginning to see the errors of some of the dinosaurs that preceded them. There’s certainly no case on climate change grounds for dualling the whole of the A96, so this demonstrably represents the end of that project.

“Transport is the largest source of climate emissions and it is imperative that all new transport investment clearly delivers cuts in emissions. Even with a reduced spend on the A96, the Government’s transport capital investment plans still remain heavily skewed towards high-carbon infrastructure, and we will be continuing our campaign to see a genuinely comprehensive overhaul of transport spending priorities. [3]

“There is simply no economic case for these roads. The Government’s civil servants had to invent new figures just to make the A9 dualling look an effective use of public funds, and the case for the full A96 dualling is no better.

“And if politicians want to improve safety on the road network then we require the urgent installation of average speed cameras across the entire trunk road network. Getting drivers to obey speed limits is the fastest way to save lives on the roads. Unfortunately, many of those who lobby for wider, faster roads are also those who fight measures that would bring about law-abiding behaviour on the roads.”

Regarding the commitment to increase investment in active travel:

“We’re very pleased to see the commitment to increase spending on active travel up to 10% of the overall transport budget. This investment could transform the opportunities for everyday journeys for nearly the entire Scottish population. [4]

“In order to tackle the climate crisis and obesity epidemic, we urgently need to move from cars to walking, wheeling and cycling for shorter trips. But we can only expect major change here if we invest heavily in safe infrastructure for these most sustainable forms of transport. Countries around Europe have done this, and it is a national embarrassment that our active travel infrastructure remains so poor.

“The commitment to 10% of the transport budget to be spent on active travel is something for which we have been campaigning for well over a decade. So it’s welcome that government has at last committed to this.” [5]

ENDS

CONTACTS:

Colin Howden on 07956 394121.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport. We campaign for walking, cycling and public transport to be the easiest and most affordable options for everyone. Our diverse membership brings together public, private and third sector organisations from across Scotland.

[2] Research published by Transform Scotland last week showed that the Scottish Government had spent £4 billion on new roads over the past decade, yet despite its Climate Emergency promises, intended to spend a further £7 billion over the next decade. See <https://transform.scot/blog/2021/08/10/roads-to-ruin-new-report-finds-climate-wrecking-roads-programme-due-to-double-in-size/>.

[3] See e.g. <https://transform.scot/blog/2021/02/04/infrastructure-investment-plan-disastrous-for-climate-change-sustainable-transport/>.

[4] Sustrans Scotland has calculated that building a network of active travel routes connecting every town of 10,000 or more residents would cost £2–£3 billion. (See <https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ campaigns/sustrans-scotland-manifesto-2021-the-time-to-act-is-now/>.) To put the cost in context, the current project to create a fully dualled A96 would cost at least £3 billion, is for the benefit of a small minority of Scotland’s population (an average of 11,674 vehicles per day, or the equivalent of 0.2% of the people in Scotland). (See <https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/scottish-transport-statistics-no-39-2020-edition/>.)

[5] The ‘10% on active travel’ demand originated in a 2008 campaign by the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), to which many Scottish organisations were signatories.

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