Transform Scotland - For Sustainable Transport

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Doing Their Duty?

Transform Scotland has published the report ‘Doing their Duty?', which finds that action is needed by the Scottish public sector to improve their performance on sustainable transport.

Doing Their Duty? front cover image

The report finds that over 60% of Scotland’s main public sector bodies (the ‘Major Player’ Public Bodies) have no plans in place to reduce their use of transport. The Public Bodies also remain massively dependent on air travel for trips from the Scottish Central Belt to London. There is however some evidence of vehicle purchasing moving towards low-emission vehicles.

'Doing their Duty?' also identified a number of good practice examples to which the under-performing should aspire. Transform Scotland has chosen to commend the National Library of Scotland for their efforts on travel planning, West Lothian Council for their use of low-emission vehicles, and SEPA for reducing their mainland UK flights by 96%. Others need to show such leadership.

National Library of Scotland award
Report author Aoife Parker-Hedderman presenting award for Travel Planning to the National Library for Scotland.

The report investigated the actions of the ‘Major Player’ Public Bodies, presenting a summary of their performance on three key areas of sustainable transport policy:

  • Travel planning: Whether they have plans in place to reduce their transport impacts.
  • Low Emission Vehicles: Whether they are making their vehicle fleet less polluting.
  • Travel to London: Whether they are using rail rather than air for travel from Scotland to London.
The key findings of this study are:

  • At least 60% of Scottish Public Bodies have no plans for reducing their travel by means of implementing a Travel Plan. This is deeply disappointing given that they have been advised to do so, and offered practical support to do so, for well over a decade.
  • There is some evidence that Public Bodies’ vehicle fleets are moving towards the acquisition of Lower Emission Vehicles. It is unclear, however, whether this is due to the impact of the Public Bodies Duty (or whether this is due to the general trend towards lower emission vehicles as a result of European legislation).
  • Public Bodies are overwhelmingly choosing air travel (74% of journeys) over rail travel (26%) for long-distance travel between Edinburgh/Glasgow and London, despite the former being substantially more polluting.