Switched on Scotland: A roadmap to widespread adoption of plug in vehicles

4 Policy Frameworks

The Roadmap established that the Scottish Government, the wider public sector and industry decision-makers will all individually and collectively need to establish the necessary policy frameworks to both guide and accelerate the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles. Embedding plug-in vehicles into relevant national, local and organisational policies and strategies will motivate the required support, funding and commitments to change. It will also help to realise the full potential for plug-in vehicles to contribute to advances in related policy objectives.


Plug-in vehicles are embedded in all relevant areas of policy and advance progress on climate change, air quality, renewables, energy security and public health.

Working towards the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles now forms part of several significant national policies.

In January 2016, Transport Scotland published a refresh of the National Transport Strategy (NTS). The refresh restated the key strategic outcome to reduce emissions to tackle climate change and improve air quality. The Roadmap and its vision feature in the strategy in relation to decarbonisation of road transport. The refresh also recommended a 'fuller, collaborative review of the NTS to the next Scottish Government', and in August 2016 the Minister for Transport and the Islands confirmed that the review will commence in 2016/17. The review will provide an opportunity to further explore the role plug-in vehicles can play in achieving a cleaner, more sustainable road transport sector in Scotland.

The next iteration of the Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan is scheduled to be laid in Parliament in January 2017. Transport Scotland has stated that accelerating the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles and other ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), such as hydrogen fuel cell buses, will continue to be a vital strand of its activity to reduce emissions from road transport.

In November 2015, the Scottish Government published Cleaner Air for Scotland, its low emission strategy. The document outlines a vision that 'Scotland's air quality will be the best in Europe', and also confirms the commitment to decarbonise transport, clearly making the links between transport, air quality and health. The strategy makes a commitment to continue to deliver the actions contained in the Roadmap in relation to increasing uptake of plug-in vehicles.

Source: Cleaner Air for Scotland 2015

Source: Cleaner Air for Scotland 2015

High level planning policy in Scotland recognises the importance of considering plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure in new developments. Supportive text is included in both the Third National Planning Framework and the Scottish Planning Policy 2014, with the latter stating that 'Consideration should be given to how proposed development will contribute to fulfilling the objectives of Switched On Scotland…. Electric vehicle charge points should always be considered as part of any new development and provided where appropriate.' In addition, permitted development rights for off-road charge points came into force on 30 June 2014. This allows for the installation of charge points (with restrictions), without the need for an application for planning permission[5].

As of August 2016, eleven (34%) out of 32 Local Development Plans (LDPs) include at least the consideration for provision of charge points in new developments. For example, Scottish Borders Council Local Development Plan was adopted in May 2016 and states that: 'New developments should also consider a range of sustainable travel initiatives including the provision of electric vehicle power points.'

Councils are required to review their development plan at least every five years, including supplementary guidance, therefore the proportion of LDPs including provision for charge points should increase over time.

Strategies at a local level are also increasingly recognising the importance of accelerating the adoption of plug-in vehicles. The majority of Local Transport Strategies written since the publication of the Roadmap in 2013, contain references to plug-in vehicles. For example, the City of Edinburgh Council's Local Transport Strategy states that 'The Council will use Switched on Scotland…as a guide to advance the adoption of plug-in vehicles in Edinburgh. It will also work with Transport Scotland to progress further opportunities to promote plug-in vehicles within the Council and to local residents and businesses.'