1 INTRODUCTION IMPROVING TRANSPORT PROVISION – PROGRESS SO FAR THE STRATEGIC TRANSPORT PROJECTS REVIEW
1.1 A safe, efficient and effective transport system is a key enabler of a successful and dynamic nation. We all use transport, or rely upon it for the movement of goods, services and people, as part of our daily lives.
1.2 The challenge for the Scottish Government is to bring forward proposals which, individually and in combination, support the Scottish Government’s Purpose to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. These proposals must ensure that each of us, no matter where we live, can share in the benefits, so promoting cohesion and solidarity amongst our communities and citizens. They must give business the confidence to invest in Scotland, knowing that the Scottish Government will provide the support they need in terms of sustained transport provision. We must be adaptive and visionary, whilst being sensitive to the individual needs of our communities and the environment within which they sit.
1.3 Our use of transport is shaped by our choices as individuals and communities. Each of us has differing expectations and demands of our transport system. Scotland is a diverse nation, and our expectations and demands reflect this. Our outlying areas rely on road and rail connections to overcome their distance to international gateways and key markets. The Highlands and Islands, for instance, depend on the provision of safe, reliable and direct links on strategic corridors such as the A82, A835, A9 or the Highland Main Line. The south of Scotland is equally dependent on road and rail links such as the A1, A75 or A77.
1.4 Our main population centres have different requirements in terms of the volumes of traffic and the impacts this creates. Their rail and road links can be congested during peak periods; which creates economic and environmental problems, that together can undermine the role these centres play in supporting the nation’s economy. Aberdeen and Inverness are key regional centres in their own right, but also require effective connections to each other, to the Central Belt and to the rest of the UK. Glasgow and Edinburgh are central to Scotland’s economic prosperity and together, they function as an internationally significant economic area. Effective transport links play a crucial role in achieving this.
1.5 At the same time, recent work on climate change has identified the challenges facing transport in securing the UK Government’s commitment to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. It is recognised that the pathways identified for the major contributors to climate change are particularly difficult to achieve for transport, but that there is a clear requirement to draw from and respond to the current policy context in Scotland and the UK. However, it is also evident that a number of relevant transport policy levers are reserved outside the remit of the Scottish Government. Scottish transport policy and investment cannot address the issues on its own; but it must, so far as is practicable, support wider efforts to reduce emissions.
1.6 In meeting this challenge, the Scottish Government will be building on a solid foundation. Much of the strategic transport network currently performs well in terms of the Scottish Government’s objectives. In addition, key improvements are already being delivered.
1.7 The rail network provides competitive journey times and service frequency between Scotland’s two largest cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and provides the means by which many workers get to their jobs in the main city centres each day. After closure for almost 40 years, the Stirling – Alloa – Kincardine rail line has recently been reopened to passenger traffic, along with the Larkhall – Milngavie line, creating new opportunities. Significant improvements have also been carried out at Edinburgh Waverley station, supporting wider service enhancements in the south east. Work to deliver the Airdrie to Bathgate rail line is well advanced, and the Glasgow Airport rail link and the Waverley rail link are both under development. Work is ongoing to construct a tram network in Edinburgh. Together, these will bring further improvements to the nation’s public transport system.
1.8 Improvements to the Trunk Road network are also being delivered. The Clackmannanshire Bridge at Kincardine has recently been completed. Construction of the M74 Completion in Glasgow is underway, while the completion of the M80 (Stepps to Haggs) and of the M8 (Baillieston to Newhouse) are being advanced. Both significant improvement and maintenance work has been carried out on existing roads (e.g. the A8 Baillieston-Newhouse, the A78 Ardrossan to Stevenston and the A830 Arisaig to Loch Nan Umah). Local schemes focusing on specific transport issues, such as the A9 Ballinluig junction and the A80 Auchenkilns roundabout have been implemented. As well as physical infrastructure improvements, demand management initiatives supported by intelligent transport systems are also being introduced.
1.9 These improvements to the transport network have already contributed towards delivering the Scottish Government’s Purpose – promoting sustainable economic growth. They have provided additional capacity on congested parts of the network, improved accessibility along the affected corridors, provided journey time reductions and helped to improve safety on the network. Road accident casualties have fallen substantially over the past 10 years (by around 20 per cent, with numbers killed or seriously injured falling by 33 per cent1), even though demand for transport and road usage have grown significantly over the same time.
1.10 In spite of this progress, there continue to be many locations where the nation’s strategic transport network can be improved through more effective operation and maintenance, making better use of existing capacity, or implementing targeted infrastructure enhancements. Transport schemes can take a long time to implement, even once a decision has been made to proceed. In order to ensure that Scotland’s transport system is fit for the demands placed upon it, plans must be made now for all types of future improvement.
1.11 Transport Scotland has undertaken the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) to help this planning for the future. The STPR has identified strategic transport interventions which reflect the diversity of the country whilst addressing the issues that currently exist or are expected to exist in the future.
1.12 This Summary Report is based on the work undertaken and reported in a series of more detailed reports setting out the STPR process. The purpose of this Summary Report is to define the background against which the STPR has been conducted and to provide an overview of the conclusions contained in the detailed reports, particularly in terms of:
- The key strategic transport issues that have been identified by the review process; and
- The transport investments which most effectively support the Scottish Government’s stated Purpose by addressing these issues.
Scope of the STPR
1.13 The STPR identifies interventions to be delivered, designed or developed beyond 2012 and primarily between 2012 and 2022. Just as transport improvements have been, and are being made, in advance of the STPR period the delivery of the STPR will not mark the end point in improving Scotland’s transport network. The changing demands of the 21st Century and continued need to address important issues such as climate change and social exclusion will demand continued action. In setting out interventions, the STPR marks an important step forward and establishes the basis upon which future action is taken.
1.14 The interventions within the scope of the STPR provide only a part of the overall transport investment in Scotland. In particular, the interventions proposed are additional to those schemes which have already been committed. There are also many other interventions which are outside the scope of the review, but which still constitute a commitment to the improvement of transport provision in Scotland. Examples include many local schemes for road and public transport enhancements, as well as initiatives to improve ferry services, or to improve provision for walking and cycling.
1.15 Local Authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships have responsibilities for local and regional aspects of the nation’s transport system, and the Scottish Government’s concordat with the Local Authorities recognises that many transport interventions are best delivered locally. This has allowed the STPR to remain focused on the strategic transport network, leaving priorities for smaller scale improvement interventions which are not strategic in their scope or funding requirements to be developed and delivered by the Local Authorities and their Regional Transport Partnerships. The STPR has specifically excluded interventions that are the responsibility of Local Authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships to develop and deliver, although there may be occasions where the interventions proposed are complementary.
1.16 The STPR concentrates on those interventions that are within the current competence of the Scottish Government, or reflect the Scottish Government’s aspirations for better connections to the rest of the UK. It is focused on land based interventions; ferries, other shipping links and air connections are addressed by other initiatives. Maintaining and improving rail and road links to ports and airports has, however, been an important consideration in the development of interventions identified in the STPR.
1.17 The STPR has been completed using the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG)2. STAG advocates an evidence-based, objective-led appraisal framework which allows the identification and appraisal of interventions most likely to address identified issues. Importantly, STAG is a multi-modal appraisal framework (allowing rail and road based interventions to be considered on a common basis), and has multiple appraisal criteria (covering environmental, safety, social and policy issues as well as economic performance).
Assessment of Issues, Opportunities and Objectives
1.18 The process of identifying interventions started with an assessment of current and future demand, in the context of the Scottish Government’s Purpose and Strategic Objectives. This was followed by the identification of gaps, shortfalls and opportunities in the current and anticipated performance of the strategic road and rail systems.
1.19 The assessment was undertaken in the context of 20 route corridors, the urban networks of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the strategic nodes of Perth and Inverness.
1.20 A set of transport-specific objectives was developed from a number of evidence-based sources, including the Government Economic Strategy3, the National Transport Strategy4 and the National Planning Framework5 (along with the developing second National Planning Framework6).
1.21 Based on the particular characteristics and future transport issues identified for each of these study areas, and the associated goals outlined in Chapter 4 of this Report, a number of specific objectives were derived for each corridor, urban network and strategic node (these are listed in Annex B).
Shortlisting Interventions in the STPR
1.22 A range of interventions was developed to address the identified goals and objectives. These were initially derived from sources including Regional Transport Strategies, workshops with key stakeholders and other research. The interventions were specified to include all types of possible improvement and were categorised accordingly – including:
- Action plans to optimise the effectiveness of existing transport networks;
- Measures to achieve greater operational efficiency of these networks; or
- Investments in services or infrastructure to provide additional capacity, where this might be necessary.
1.23 Those potential interventions which were assessed as contributing significantly towards the identified objectives were then appraised against the STAG criteria; Environment, Safety, Economy, Integration and Accessibility and Social Inclusion. The shortlisted interventions outlined in this report represent those schemes which are:
- Consistent with meeting national Strategic Objectives and wider Scottish Government policy;
- Strategic in nature (e.g. meeting national rather than local needs);
- Assessed as providing the most effective and economic means of addressing identified strategic transport issues;
- Assessed to be feasible, deliverable and offering value for money, so far as it is practical to state; and
- Deliverable by, or require significant support from, the Scottish Government.
1.24 An important consideration is that the interventions should support the Scottish Government’s Purpose, and the individual interventions have been assessed in terms of the level at which this is achieved.
1.25 In identifying the interventions presented in this report, it is important to recognise that the results of the appraisals reflect the differing roles and issues of the individual corridors, nodes and networks. This makes it difficult to directly compare the results of the appraisals on a cross corridor basis. An economic benefit arising from an intervention in a remote area may, for instance, be less in absolute terms than that of improving a route in a more populous area. It may well be proportionally more significant, however, for the community it serves.
Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment
1.26 Transport’s potential impacts on the environment have been critical to the development and consideration of the STPR. The Scottish Government’s Purpose has a clear emphasis on sustainability and the supporting Strategic Objective of a Greener Scotland focuses on improving the country’s natural and built environment and the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.
1.27 A key part of the process of the STPR process – from identifying the issues through to developing and assessing the range of interventions – has been the undertaking of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). SEA is a systematic method for considering the likely environmental effects of a draft programme and aims to integrate environmental factors into policy preparation and decision-making. It also has an important role to play in increasing public participation and facilitating openness and transparency in decision-making.
1.28 In accordance with EU Legislation, the STPR Environmental Report, produced as part of the SEA, will be subject to a statutory consultation process. The purpose of the Environmental Report is to identify, describe and evaluate the likely effects on the environment of implementing the interventions proposed by the STPR and their reasonable alternatives. The Environmental Report provides an opportunity for the Consultation Authorities and the public to offer views on any aspect of the SEA.
1.29 In addition to the SEA, an Appropriate Assessment has also been undertaken. This addresses the requirements of the Habitats Directive. This protects Natura 2000 sites, including Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), that are designated as being of sufficient importance to warrant significant protection The Appropriate Assessment is important in that its conduct ensures that only those interventions identified as not adversely affecting designated sites proceed.