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Transform’s campaigning updates

Published 22 February 2022 by Rachel McFarlane

We’ve recently seen the release of a number of key transport policy documents, including STPR2, NPF4, the traffic reduction plan consultation and a consultation on a new Aviation Strategy. Our communications officer, Rachel McFarlane, considers each of these in our monthly campaigns update.  

STPR2 

Last month saw the release of the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, which maps out the next 20 years of transport investment in Scotland. [1]

After commencing a country-wide review of Scotland’s transport needs in 2019 [2], Transport Scotland released the outcomes of their various consultations and research on 20 January 2022, just over thirteen years after the publication of STPR1.  

With the Scottish transport spend in recent years having been massively skewed towards high-carbon road-building projects, the Transform team were looking for STPR2 to prioritise sustainable transport investment.

The result? 

We were pleasantly surprised by the recommendations made, and found the spending priorities to be moving in the right direction.

On the day of its release, our director Colin Howden said:

“STPR2’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.”

Admittedly, the true test will be whether the Scottish Government can hold course and stick to the recommendations set out in STPR2 and not give in to pressures from various politicians and interest groups who wish to see more roads being built (…and our planet burnt). 

There is currently a consultation open for STPR2 until 15 April which can be found here. We will be responding to this in due course and welcome any views on the published version of the review from our members and supporters.

Our response to Transport Scotland’s New Aviation Strategy 

At the end of January, we published our response to Transport Scotland’s discussion paper on its consultation for a new aviation strategy, which we found to be woefully lacking in effectively addressing aviation’s role in the climate crisis. Bizarrely, the document had more to say on ‘air taxis’ than it did on aviation taxation! [3]

The Scottish Government states in the document that they are “under no illusion about the enormity of the challenge” that Covid-19 and decarbonisation pose to the sector. However, given the content of the proposals, Transform Scotland seriously questions this commitment.

Our policy officer Marie Ferdelman said:

“The proposals put forward to tackle the climate crisis are entirely removed from reality. They rely on technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels, air taxis and electric planes, most of which will not be ready to be deployed at a large scale within this decade. We need to make cuts in emissions now, not wish away action to the far future.”

Yet again, the aviation industry seems to have dodged any tangible responsibility for its part to play in the vast quantities of emissions they produce each year. This is not only hugely unfair, but entirely out of line with the Scottish Government’s declaration that we are in a climate emergency. 

We look forward to seeing whether the the aviation strategy will take a more responsible approach when it is published, or whether aviation will continue to get a free pass on climate. For now, you can read our response in full here

The Scottish Government’s draft new National Planning Framework 4

Our policy advisor Dr Caroline Brown 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’) at the beginning of February. [4]

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, Caroline argued, would make it more difficult to shift transport behaviours towards sustainable transport.

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 anyone can make their views known via its consultation

Traffic Reduction Plan consultation 

On 13 January, the Scottish Government’s 20% traffic reduction route map was published and provided the main topic of conversation at our first official Cross-Party Group on Sustainable Transport meeting held on 27 January

On its publication, our director Colin Howden said:

“The evidence is clear: we’re not going to hit our climate targets without traffic reduction. So it’s great to see the Scottish Ministers promote road traffic reduction as a centrepiece of its climate strategy for transport. ‘Reducing the need to travel’  — or the ‘Avoid’ in Avoid-Shift-Improve — has always been at the vanguard of the sustainable transport critique, and so it’s imperative that we now get the Scottish Government to deliver on this.

“We’re in particular pleased to see the commitment to road traffic demand management in the route map.”

The route map is now out for consultation until 6 April. We will be responding to this in the coming weeks, and would encourage our members and supporters to do the same and show their support for this progressive and welcomed plan. 

Notes

[1] “STPR2 considers the transport needs of Scotland’s people and communities, and examines active travel (walking, wheeling, cycling), bus, ferry, rail and motorways and trunk roads as well as passenger and freight access to major ports and airports. These needs are reviewed from national and regional perspectives to reflect their different geographies, travel patterns and demands.”

[2] Transport Scotland, 2022. 

[3] Transform Scotland, 2022.  

[4] You can find out more about the National Planning Framework 4 here.