Roads to Ruin
Our Roads to Ruin project emphasises the hugely damaging impact that road-building has on our environment and society.
Our Roads to Ruin project emphasises the hugely damaging impact that road-building has on our environment and society. It challenges the Scottish Government’s irresponsible multi-billion pound road-building programme, and argues that these funds should instead be invested in sustainable transport.
Scotland recently revised its climate targets to be net zero by 2045, with a 75% emissions reduction by 2030. In transport specifically, the Scottish Government has now committed to a target of 20% traffic reduction by 2030 in order to meet its climate targets. Yet in this key policy area where Scotland has consistently failed to make progress on emissions, government capital expenditure plans still massively favour the construction additional road capacity over investment in sustainable transport.
Given the large amounts of public funds involved, it is vital that the government, parliament, and the public have accurate and timely costings for the various road-building programmes. We must be able to understand the scale of the financial commitment being put into new roads, and the magnitude of the opportunity cost. If we are to see transport play its part in building a sustainable, healthy, and fair Scotland, the Scottish Government’s expenditure priorities must be aligned with its stated policy objectives.
We commissioned research on this topic in 2021, which led to the publication of our report: Roads to Ruin: Time for climate-responsible transport investment in Scotland.
This report provides an analysis of the Scottish road-building programme. It is the first of its kind, and is an important document for mapping out exactly how much of the Scottish budget is being spent on new road capacity.
The report found that:
- Road transport accounts for 24% of all of Scottish emissions, with road transport alone a larger emitter than any other sector of the economy.
- Between 2011 and 2021, the Scottish Government spent £4 billion on building new roads.
- The average cost escalation across the five largest projects between 2011 and 2021 was 86%, or nearly a doubling of costs.
- Transport Scotland’s 16 ongoing or planned projects represent a total spend of £7 billion — yet this does not include likely cost increases or several uncosted and proposed projects.
This report is fundamental to our Roads to Ruin project, and has acted as a platform in which we can amplify our message and challenge decision-makers about their spending decisions.
Despite its climate and traffic reduction targets, the Scottish Government remains committed to its multi-billion pound road-building programme. But soon after the publication of our report, a chink of light appeared when the Government agreed in its partnership agreement with the Scottish Greens that it would review the scope of some of the £3 billion A96 dualling scheme. It remains to be seen whether it will revise its plans, or carry on with its climate-trashing roads plans.
We published a video alongside the release of this report. It sets out the key message that the Scottish Government must start investing in responsible transport infrastructure projects, and halt its new road building projects immediately.
Since the launch of our report and accompanying video, we have organised meetings and prepared policy briefings on this subject in order to further impact change. We also wrote an update which considers what has changed a year since the report was published.
See our Roads to Ruin update.
Unfortunately, whilst the changes are still slow, we continue to fight against these irresponsible investments being made by Scotland’s leaders, and remind those in power that a Climate Emergency does not allow for a ‘business as usual’ approach to transport.