Transport and the Climate Change Plan:
Improved targets welcome, but Plan leaves much to be desired for sustainable transport.
Gina Hanrahan, Acting Head of Policy, WWF Scotland
In March the Scottish Government published its Climate Change Plan which looks ahead to the Climate Change Bill. This included a very welcome increase in the target for transport emissions reduction, up to 37%. The declared intention to phase out the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2032 as well as a doubling of funding for cycling and walking is a major part of this.
Interestingly from the railway perspective is the announcement of a £60m innovation fund, part of which is to be directed to transport innovation. Vivarail's new battery-operated D-Trains have a range of 40 miles and only 8 minutes is needed to recharge (or 50 miles with a 10 minute charge). A small proportion of the innovation fund would pay for a D-Train unit, and recharging facilities, perhaps to provide a shuttle service between Thurso to Wick, enabling nearly half an hour to be cut from journeys to Wick from the south. This would indeed be innovation.*
The plan still includes a 27% assumed increase in vehicle kilometres by 2032 - if this forecast is used to shape transport and land-use planning decisions the recent trend to spend gigantic sums upgrading roads instead of railways will continue unabated.
Gina Hanrahan commented, "The plan remains technology heavy, and light on behaviour change. Much more work on managing demand for road travel and encouraging modal shift is still needed."
*Of course, if the chord at Georgemas Junction, allowing trains from the south to reach Thurso without reversing, were to be built, several more service options, using a shuttle, would be available.