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STPR2: Scottish transport spending priorities moving in the right direction

Published 20 January 2022 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland

For immediate use: Thursday 20 January 2022

Scottish transport spending priorities moving in the right direction:
But focus should be on sorting out failing ferry services rather than fanciful road bridges

Transform Scotland, the national sustainable transport alliance, [1] has today (Thursday 20th) responded to this afternoon’s Ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament on the new Strategic Transport Projects Review (‘STPR2’). [2]

Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:

“Scottish transport spending has in recent years been massively skewed towards high-carbon road-building. Most of the government’s current transport capital investment is being ploughed into new road schemes such as the A9 and A96 despite the avowed commitment to tackling the climate emergency.

“So today’s focus on active travel, decarbonised public transport and new light rail in the cities is a welcome change of course. Transport is the largest source of climate emissions, and it is precisely these sorts of projects that have the potential to get people out of cars and into more sustainable modes of transport.

“We fully expect to hear from various politicians and interest groups demanding that their local road scheme should instead be prioritised for spending. But it is because top priority has for decades been given to new roads that transport has grown to become the largest source of climate emissions. Any politician who is still lobbying for new traffic-generating road-building at this late stage in the climate emergency is effectively a climate denier.”

Regarding the proposed studies into bridges or tunnels for the Sound of Barra and Sound of Harris, Colin Howden said:

“I doubt any of these suggested crossings will ever be built. They look as improbable as Boris Johnson’s failed Irish Sea Bridge proposal.

“The Barra and Harris bridges alone would cost billions to build. With only 27,000 inhabitants in the Western Isles, the benefit-cost ratio for these proposals would be extremely poor. The focus should be on sorting out failing ferry services rather than promoting fanciful road bridges.”

Regarding a bridge to the Isle of Mull, Colin Howden said:

“Of course, any bridge to Mull would have to be a joint road-rail bridge. It would surely be inconceivable nowadays to be building a new bridge only to carry cars. As such, I look forward to my invitation to the first direct Edinburgh to Tobermory rail service under the new ScotRail.”



[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors. See <> for details.

[2] STPR2