Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Screening - A route map to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030

Step one – Details of the plan

Responsible Authority

Transport Scotland

Title of the plan

Creating better ways of living by reducing car use:

A route map to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030.

What prompted the plan

Scotland’s Climate Change Plan Update in 2020 set out a commitment to reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030. A route map to deliver this commitment is now being developed:

  • Draft Route Map for Consultation - will be published in late 2021
  • Consultation and Engagement - stakeholder and public engagement and consultation will be conducted on the Route Map and associated Impact Assessments
  • Final Route Map - a final route map will be published, informed by feedback and having allowed time for pandemic uncertainty on future transport trends to have lessened

Plan subject


Is an SEA required?

Our view is that an SEA is not required, as the environmental effects are unlikely to be significant.

Step two – Content and Description of The Plan

Context of the Plan

Scotland’s Climate Change Plan Update (CCPu) in 2020 set out a commitment to reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030. This is a crucial part of the Climate Change Plan enabling Scotland to achieve its world-leading ambition of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. However reduction in car use can also bring a wide range of other benefits to Scotland, in line with the National Transport Strategy 2 (NTS2), including improved health and wellbeing; local inclusive economic growth; and reduced inequalities, by providing sustainable, inclusive, safe and accessible travel options for everyone. NTS2 also includes a sustainable travel hierarchy which places private car use as being the lowest priority mode of transport, and the car-use reduction route-map is designed to build on this approach to realise that ambition of fewer car kilometres.

Transport accounts for around a quarter of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest sectoral emitter, with cars making up almost 40% of transport emissions. While car travel fell during the pandemic, overall car kilometres in Scotland are now back to pre-pandemic levels, with the residual decrease in commute trips balanced out by an increase in car journeys for leisure purposes.

Our target to reduce car use stems from extensive carbon-reduction modelling, which concluded that it will not be possible to sufficiently reduce transport emissions through technological solutions alone. Reducing the use of private vehicles is necessary, alongside a switch to cleaner vehicles, to enable us to decarbonise the transport system at a pace that is sufficient to address climate change. The context of the draft Route Map highlights full range of benefits that reductions in car use can lead to, including reduced air and noise pollution, congestion, road danger, physical inactivity and community severance.

Description of the Plan

The car-use reduction draft Route Map, developed by Transport Scotland in conjunction with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), sets out the suite of national-level policies that will be implemented to support car-use reduction in order to deliver a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland for communities, businesses and visitors. The draft Route Map sets out the evidence base for where and why car journeys are taking place, and outlines a behaviour change framework of the shifts we would like to see. It sets out the change in behaviours that national, regional and local partners can support, as well as outlining current and potential future policy interventions and the effect these can have.

The principle of a just transition is at the heart of the route-map and it is recognised that there will be some people for whom transitioning to decreased car use, particularly in the short-term, will be more challenging. Therefore the target of reducing car kilometres by 20% is a national one rather than a target for all regions of Scotland or indeed all individuals within Scotland to achieve the same percentage reduction.

Data shows that in order to achieve a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030 in will be necessary to look across a range of trip types, including both short trips in urban as well as longer rural trips. In order to create a framework for change that is universally applicable in both rural and urban settings, and for those with a variety of transport needs, the route-map sets out four broad behaviours that its policies must influence. These are rethinking the need to travel; switching to a more local destination where possible; switching to a more sustainable mode where possible; and trip-chaining or car-sharing where none of the other three behaviours is feasible.

The draft Route Map has been developed using a behaviour-change approach with acknowledges that it will only be possible for the desired individual behaviours to be adopted if the right social and material conditions are in place to facilitate change. The framework for the route-map therefore focusses on addressing the material conditions and sets out the key national-level policies and infrastructure that will support people to enact one or more of the four desired behaviours. A second phase of work will include further stakeholder and public consultation and engagement, in order to develop a final route-map that includes greater detail on the policies that are needed to build social as well as material support for change, and to engage more directly with individuals and communities.

What are the key components of the plan?

The draft Route Map is an umbrella document which has been developed by drawing upon both published evidence as well as key insights from initial stakeholder and public engagement, to bring together a suite of interventions which will support people to enact car-use reduction behaviours. It includes policies in a variety of states of development:

  • Policies that are already close to launch, such as free nationwide bus travel for children and young people under-22
  • Policies that are already announced but not yet fully developed, such as a commitment to Active Freeways
  • A commitment to begin exploring the potential for new policies, such as those that could help to dis-incentivise car use

Crucially the draft Route Map includes a significant number of non-transport policies, such as those on digital connectivity and the creation of 20-minute neighbourhoods, which aim to enable people to live high quality lives while travelling less or to more local destinations. With many of these ambitions and aims set out in wider Scottish Government Policies and Strategies, including draft National Planning Framework 4 (see below).

The indicative draft list of interventions, allocated to the desired car-use reduction behaviours includes:

To help people ‘rethink the need to travel’:

  • Draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4)
  • Extending superfast broadband
  • Mapping digital connectivity
  • Fair Work First Action Plan
  • Work Local Challenge Programme
  • NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy

To help people ‘live well locally’:

  • Housing strategy
  • Place Principle and Place Standard
  • 20-minute neighbourhoods
  • Mobility Hubs
  • 20 mph speed limits in all built up areas by 2025

To help people switch to more sustainable modes:

  • Cycling Framework and Delivery Plan
  • Active freeways
  • Improving access to cycles and transportation of cycles
  • Road Safety Framework
  • Low Emission Zones
  • Travel Planning
  • Review of Transport Governance
  • Fair fares revie
  • Under-22s free bus travel
  • Bus priority measures
  • Community Bus Fund
  • National Smart Ticketing Advisory Board
  • Rail network improvements
  • Improved connections between ferries and other modes
  • Car parking strategies
  • Workplace Parking Levy
  • Exploring Car Disincentivisation
  • Learning for Sustainability and Eco Schools

To help people combine or share trips:

  • Mobility as a Service
  • Car Clubs

Have any of the components of the plan been considered in previous SEA work?

An SEA for the NTS2 was published in July 2019 and “concluded the potential for the draft Strategy to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions arising from the transport sector.” The SEA gave consideration to a number of priorities and associated outcomes which align with the components of draft Route Map, including:

  • “Promotes equality” and its associated outcome of “Will provide fair access to services we need”
  • Take climate action and its associated outcome of “Will promote greener, cleaner choices”
  • “Helps our economy prosper” and its associated outcome of “Will get us where we need to get to”, and
  • “Improves our health and wellbeing” and its associated outcome of “Will enable us to make healthy travel choices”

An SEA for the Climate Change Plan update has also been undertaken, and found that “policies and proposals within the transport sector are expected to have significant positive effects in relation to climatic factors as they support decarbonisation of transport through promoting the uptake of electric or low emission vehicles, encouraging behavioural change to travel, such as shorter or fewer journeys, and encouraging travel by active and public transport”.

Other SEAs of relevance also include those currently being undertaken on the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) and the recently published draft NPF4.

SEAs have also been done on individual policies where relevant.

Components of the plan that are likely to require screening

As noted above,  the draft Route Map will set out a commitment to begin exploring the potential for new policies, such as those that could help to dis-incentivise car use. Where new polices are brought forward under this commitment, these will be considered in their own right under the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the “2005 Act”) by the relevant policy leads.

There are no policies that are currently at the appropriate stage of development to enable policy-level screening to take place at this time.

Step three – Identifying interactions of the plan with the environment and considering the likely significance of any interactions

Plan components

  • Population and human health
  • Water
  • Air
  • Climate factors
  • Cultural heritage
  • Landscape

There are a wide range of potential environmental effects of car-use reduction, including through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as particulate pollution from tyre and break wear and the consequent impacts on human health, water, air and climate. Infrastructure to reduce car use, and the resultant car-use reduction itself is also likely to impact positively on the physical environment, both in terms of landscape in rural areas and cultural heritage in urban areas. 

These effects are considered to be broadly positive for the environmental topic areas indicated, however policy-level SEAs may be required on certain individual policies to ensure the avoidance of any unintended consequences.