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Transform calls for ‘Infrastructure First’ in NPF4

Published 08 February 2022 by Transform Scotland

Our policy advisor Dr Caroline Brown today gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee as part of its inquiry into the Scottish Government’s draft new National Planning Framework (‘NPF4’).

Responding to questioning from Natalie Don MSP, Caroline stressed that it was “critically important” that an ‘Infrastructure First’ approach should be taken in NPF4, with active travel and public transport infrastructure put in place before development takes place. Failing this, it becomes more difficult to shift transport behaviours towards sustainable transport if this was only done afterwards.

Also as part of the evidence that Transform led, Caroline:

  • Said that resources & skills were the main challenges faced by Local Authorities in delivering more sustainable outcomes, in response to a question from committee convenor Dean Lockhart MSP;
  • Argued in response to a question from Mark Ruskell MSP that we needed to see much more urgency in delivering traffic demand management;
  • Agreed with Jackie Dunbar MSP, as well as the MACS witness on the same panel, that NPF4 needs to be clearer in its commitment to tackling inequalities;
  • Agreed with Liam Kerr MSP that there was a need for ‘more nuanced’ approaches to be taken around the delivery of infrastructure, such as that for EVs, in rural areas;
  • Responded to a question by Monica Lennon MSP about transport priorities in the context of the Climate Emergency that we need to see much greater urgency by the Scottish Government in delivering sustainable transport infrastructure, highlighting the historic bias in capital expenditure priorities towards trunk roads rather than active travel;
  • Said in response to questioning from Mark Ruskell that Transport Scotland needs to play a greater role in coordinating active travel delivery with Local Authorities, echoing the recommendations of our October 2021 report on Active Freeways.

The NZET Committee’s report on NPF4 will be completed over the course of the next month.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on NPF4 and everyone can make their views known via its consultation.