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Draft Scottish low emissions strategy expected in 2014

Scottish Transport Minister promises draft low emission strategy before 2015 and unveils ‘Active Travel’ vision up to 2030

A Scottish Government strategy aimed at encouraging more people to walk and cycle for everyday shorter journeys was unveiled yesterday (November 20) by Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown, who has also promised to deliver a draft low emissions strategy by the end of the year.

The Scottish Government hopes that the within 15 years, walking and cycling will be the normal method of transport for shorter journeys in Scotland, and has promised to increase expenditure on cycling and walking infrastructure this year by a further £27 million in order to boost quality of life and help to reduce air pollution from traffic.

The Scottish Government's Active Travel Vision 2030 seeks to encourage more cycling and walking for shorter journeys

The Scottish Government’s Active Travel Vision 2030 seeks to encourage more cycling and walking for shorter journeys

Focusing on areas such as infrastructure, transport integration, cultural and behaviour change, community ownership and planning, the ‘Long-Term Vision for Active Travel in Scotland 2030’ report states that “more people choosing to walk and cycle will reduce pollution from motorised travel and so help tackle climate change and improve air quality”.

Elsewhere, the report states that all of Scotland’s urban areas meet air quality targets and that “noise limits and emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants have been vastly reduced from 2014 levels”.

Mr Brown commented: “This vision sets out how we hope Scotland will look in 2030 if more people are walking and cycling for short, everyday journeys allowing us to reap the benefits of active travel. It goes without saying that cycling and walking benefits the individual by improving their physical health, but also their mental health, and keeps their transport costs down whilst also benefiting the environment by reducing greenhouse gasses and pollutants.”

Low emissions strategy

It comes two days after Mr Brown promised (November 18) that he would also deliver a draft low emissions strategy – aimed at reducing pollution – for consultation by the end of the year while speaking at the Scottish Transport Emissions Partnership conference in Edinburgh.

However, campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland claimed the proposed low emission strategy was “nearly a year later than originally promised”, while in the meantime Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen continue to “suffer from dangerously high levels of air pollution”.

FoE Scotland air pollution campaigner, Emilia Hanna, said: “Last year we were promised a strategy in spring 2014, now it is to be Christmas at the earliest. Another 2,000 people have died while we have waited for the government to get its act in gear on air pollution.

“Meanwhile the government’s draft budget allocates over 200 times the amount of money to building new roads as it does to improving air quality. We urgently need an effective and fully-funded strategy to fix pollution in our towns and cities.”

The campaign group also put forward its list of demands for the proposed low emission strategy, such as the inclusion of a low emission zone framework for Scotland and public transport targets.

Emilia Hanna added: “We need a clear deadline for clean air and a set of measures which will get us there. The solutions are clear, but the Government’s commitment to solving the problem is not.”

The campaign group is demanding the following for inclusion in the low emission strategy:

  • A clear commitment to a date before 2020 by which Scottish cities will have clean air.
  • Additional funding for local authorities to be able to implement low emission zones, improve walking and cycling infrastructure, and retrofit or upgrade bus fleets.
  • A framework to roll out ultra low emission zones in cities across Scotland, so that the cars, LGVs, HGVs and buses are excluded.
  • Targets to increase the number of journeys taken by public transport, walking, and cycling.
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