2.1 Transport plays a critical role in meeting the Scottish Government’s Purpose. An efficient transport system is one of the key enablers for enhancing productivity and delivering faster, more sustainable economic growth. Enhancing Scotland’s transport infrastructure and service provision can help open up new markets, increase access to employment and help build a critical mass of business that can drive up competitiveness and deliver growth.

2.2 The role of transport is given context by several strategies, each of which has been published to address part of the often changing setting within which the design, development and delivery of transport is undertaken. The STPR is specifically mandated in the Government Economic Strategy3 and has considered the ways in which infrastructure could potentially respond to the challenges and opportunities identified by the Key Strategic Outcomes. The STPR is also mandated in the National Transport Strategy4 and further contextualised by the National Planning Framework5 and the proposed Scottish Climate Change Bill.

2.3 The interventions proposed by the STPR have been selected to support the delivery of Scottish Government policy and contribute to the Scottish Government’s Purpose.


2.4 The Government Economic Strategy3 states that the overarching Purpose of the Scottish Government is "to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth". This means building a dynamic and growing economy that will provide prosperity and opportunities for all, while ensuring that future generations will also be able to enjoy a better quality of life.

2.5 The Strategy sets targets to track progress in boosting Scotland’s growth, productivity, population and labour market participation, and in delivering on the desired characteristics of growth – solidarity, cohesion and sustainability. The five strategic priorities of: learning, skills and well-being; supportive business environment; infrastructure development and place; effective government; and equity are identified as being critical to economic growth.

Scottish Government: Strategic Approach

2.6 The Scottish Government’s Purpose is supported by specific Strategic Objectives for Scotland – that it will be:

  • Wealthier & Fairer – Enable businesses and people to increase their wealth and more people to share fairly in that wealth;
  • Smarter – Expand opportunities for Scots to succeed from nurture through to life long learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements;
  • Healthier – Help people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care;
  • Safer & Stronger – Help local communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life; and
  • Greener – Improve Scotland’s natural and built environment and the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.

2.7 The Strategic Objectives are supported by the Key Strategic Outcomes for transport identified by the National Transport Strategy, while the National Planning Framework establishes the spatial context for the nation’s development. These are discussed below.


2.8 The National Transport Strategy (NTS), along with its associated documents for rail7, bus8 and freight9, was published in 2006. Many of the specific commitments of the NTS have been delivered since it was published, and the Delivery Plan for the NTS identifies how the remainder will be taken forward.

2.9 Three Key Strategic Outcomes for transport are identified in the NTS (and subsequently endorsed by the Scottish Government) and are aligned to the Scottish Government’s overall Purpose:

  • Improving journey times and connections, to tackle congestion and the lack of integration and connections in transport that impact on the potential for continued and economic growth;
  • Reducing emissions, to tackle the issues of climate change, air quality and health improvement; and
  • Improving quality, accessibility and affordability, to give people a choice of public transport, where availability means better quality transport services and value for money or an alternative to the car.

2.10 As described above, these Key Strategic Outcomes for transport have been used within the STPR as a basis for identifying the specific objectives for each corridor, urban network and strategic node which have in turn informed the appraisal process and the identification of the recommended interventions.


2.11 The National Planning Framework (NPF) sets out a strategy for Scotland’s development between 2005 and 2025, providing a national context for development plans and planning decisions and helping to inform the wider programmes of government, public agencies and local authorities. The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 placed subsequent NPFs on a statutory footing.

2.12 The second National Planning Framework (NPF2) has been developed alongside the STPR, and will take forward the spatial aspects of the Government Economic Strategy as well as providing further detail on the spatial development of Scotland up to 2030. It will play a key role in co-ordinating policies with a spatial dimension and integrating and aligning strategic investment priorities to enable each part of the country to play to its strengths in contributing to the Scottish Government’s Purpose and Strategic Objectives. It focuses strongly on priorities for the improvement of infrastructure to support Scotland’s long-term development: for transport infrastructure it supports the three Key Strategic Outcomes of the NTS.

2.13 The NPF2 identifies a number of National Developments, many of which have direct implications for the future operation of the strategic transport network. The status of these proposals has been recognised in the development of the STPR, and appropriate interventions have been identified to support the National Developments where required. This does not imply that STPR interventions are required for all of these Developments, since several already have adequate arrangements or committed schemes associated with them. The national developments cover a variety of themes, including transport, energy transmission and flood management.


2.14 The proposed Scottish Climate Change Bill will aim to establish a framework to facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland to a level below that which will lead to continued global warming. The Bill will create mandatory climate change targets to reduce Scotland’s emissions and will create new legislative means to do so. This will provide business and society with a clear signal from Scottish Government of its seriousness in tackling this issue and will provide Scotland with the certainty it needs to make the right choices now. The Bill will signal to the international community Scotland’s serious intent to contribute to the global effort to mitigate climate change and provide a strong example to other countries showing what can be done.

2.15 Climate change and the need to minimise emissions is a vital consideration in the development of strategic programmes such as the STPR – both in the context of this proposed Bill and of the Scottish Government’s Purpose.

Transport and Climate Change

2.16 Transport is a significant contributor to emissions, yet is widely regarded as being one of the most difficult areas in which to achieve substantial long term reductions in emission levels. The reasons for the difficulty are varied. Demand for transport is growing, car ownership is generally increasing and the use of the vehicles themselves is also increasing. Overall demand for transport, in terms of vehicle trips, is forecast to increase by 19 per cent between 2005 and 2022, with an associated increase in road transport carbon emissions.

2.17 In addition, transport is generally an outcome of other decision making processes, including business investment decisions, choices about where to live, where children attend school and where to work. It is extremely difficult to address the end result of the thousands of individual choices through interventions focused on transport alone. In order to break the link between the demand for travel and emissions a wide range of measures must be considered across a wide range of policy areas, which fall into the categories of:

  • Technological enhancements;
  • Behavioural change; and
  • Investment in sustainable modes of transport.

2.18 Current forecasts for the year 2022 indicate that, in the absence of significant technological or behavioural change, total road transport carbon emissions will increase from 2005 levels by some 10 per cent10. This is lower than the forecast growth in vehicle miles, reflecting the impact in the changes in the composition of the vehicle fleet as older vehicles are replaced by more efficient vehicles. It is also forecast that there will also be above-average increases in emissions in those parts of the network where planned development results in higher car use and congestion, especially in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

2.19 Although car engine efficiency is expected to improve over time, the effect of this improvement is offset to some extent by faster than average growth in the use of Light Goods Vehicles. These create higher levels of emissions than the car fleet, and have not been subject to the same level of regulatory pressure to improve their efficiency and emissions. Unlike Heavy Goods Vehicles (where encouraging transfer of freight to rail would be expected to have a beneficial effect), there is relatively little opportunity within the context of the STPR to address this particular issue.

2.20 Total emissions from rail transport are small in comparison to those of road traffic – contributing about two or three per cent of total transport emissions. Encouraging modal shift from road to rail will certainly be helpful, but the impact on total emissions of any rail intervention will inevitably be small in the context of the desired level of overall reduction given the dominance of road transport emissions.

2.21 The NTS recognises that there is a real tension between the desire to have the strategic networks contribute to both economic growth and social cohesion in Scotland through providing better connections and faster journey times, while at the same time minimising the impact on the environment of the emissions associated with increased travel. The strategy clearly recognises that there is a strong link between economic activity and rising transport demand in creating a sustainable Scotland, and that there is a significant challenge in addressing this link and in increasing the public acceptability of some of the instruments that are known to be effective in reducing emissions.

2.22 This challenge is also recognised elsewhere. The UK Government’s Environmental Audit Committee note, in their report on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport, that "Transport is an especially challenging sector in which to reduce carbon emissions largely because it is so dependent on oil: 99% of all transport in the UK currently runs on oil products, and transport accounts for 74% of the UK’s consumption of oil. … Additionally, transport is obviously intimately involved in transactions of all material goods; it has been estimated, for instance, that 95% of all goods in the shops currently arrive there using oil. This means that it may be especially difficult to decouple carbon emissions in the transport sector from economic growth." 11 The recent King Review of low-carbon cars adds that "In 2000, cars and vans accounted for 7 per cent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This proportion is rising as economic growth brings the benefits of widespread car use to the world's emerging and developing economies. Under a business-as-usual scenario, global road transport emissions would be projected to double by 2050. The global challenge is to support increases in road transport use, in a sustainable, environmentally-responsible way." 12

2.23 Whatever the difficulties, it is clear that the expected trend for transport emissions is not sustainable. There is recognition that technological and behavioural levers can be used to make a significant contribution in changing this trend, potentially to a greater extent than investment to encourage modal shift. These measures for the most part are outside the direct scope of the STPR (involving changes other than pure transport interventions), but could for example include:

  • Examining the impact of alternatives to physical travel (e.g. the growth of the Internet for business-to-business and personal shopping and the explosion in home deliveries for a wide range of goods and services ordered through the Internet);
  • More general reduction of the need to travel through continuing review of the Planning processes to ensure that transport is properly considered when drawing up new plans;
  • Driver training to encourage more efficient driving techniques; and
  • Encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles and lower-carbon technologies, including Light Goods Vehicles (e.g. developing initiatives through the creation of an Innovation Fund, providing pump-priming funding to allow public agencies and private sector operators with large vehicle fleets to renew or replace their fleets with cleaner vehicle technology such as electric vans).

2.24 Many of the policy levers that are most likely to reduce transport emissions are outside the current competence of the Scottish Government, being reserved to UK Government (e.g. vehicle taxation and fuel duty) or to EU level (e.g. product standards and emissions trading). Decisions on transport infrastructure are also closely linked to other policy areas within Scottish Government (such as housing and regeneration), and need to be viewed in that context.

Contribution of the STPR

2.25 In recommending a specific portfolio of transport interventions, the STPR has used modelling techniques to assess the contribution that these interventions might make to Climate Change through changing carbon emissions. It must be recognised that any individual intervention will have a minimal impact at a national level, although it is clear that investment in public transport and, where appropriate, rail freight will result in a reduction in levels of emissions. While the modelling tools used for STPR represent current best practice, they can be rather limited in their capability and approach when applied to the relatively small scale of individual interventions. The tools have therefore been used to assess the overall effect of the full list of the interventions recommended by the STPR (and summarised in this report).

2.26 Considering the package as a whole, it is forecast that there would be a reduction in road based transport carbon emissions of between 100,000 and 150,000 tonnes CO2e per year. This compares with an estimated 11.9 Mt of CO2e attributable to all forms for transport in Scotland in 2005 (27 per cent of the total Scottish CO2e emissions of 43.8 Mt) 13, or 9.7 Mt for road transport, assuming that this accounts for 22 per cent of total CO2e14 – i.e. a reduction of around one per cent.

2.27 In addition, it is forecast that electrification of the rail network could reduce levels of rail based carbon emissions by 20-40 per cent, although this would probably be less than one per cent of total transport emissions given the relatively small level of emissions from rail transport.

2.28 In general terms, the STPR has been carried out on the basis of ensuring that the strategic transport network will be better placed to respond positively to the technological and behavioural changes which will happen over the next ten to fifteen years, while also minimising the potential environmental impact by encouraging behavioural change in favour of more sustainable travel. For example:

  • Improving journey times for rail on intercity journeys, to make rail competitive with journey times by car and making the best use of the urban rail networks for commuting into city centres; and
  • Focusing on provision of reliable journey times for trunk roads, through tackling congestion where it affects journey time reliability, through maintaining reliable and safe networks, through managing demand for the network and through targeted capacity enhancement.

2.29 The next chapter considers some of the emerging issues identified from this review, in the context of the transport goals identified on the basis of these relevant strategies and policies. Each of the interventions identified by the STPR has been taken forward specifically on the basis of addressing these issues and of contributing towards these goals and objectives, with the aim of optimising transport’s potential to contribute to the Scottish Government’s Purpose.