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The Scottish Region Sustainable Transport Debate - Edinburgh meeting of Monday 8 April 2002

This was a well attended joint meeting with the Institution of Highways & Transportation, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the ICE's Scottish Traffic & Transportation Group.

One of the key challenges of sustainable development is to reconcile our conflicting priorities in economic development and environmental protection whilst ensuring that the choices we make reflects social concerns. The future development of transport presents no better illustration of this challenge.

The Sustainable Transport Debate Paneld

The Sustainable Transport Debate Panel

© John G. Fender 2010

In recent years we have witnessed a rapid rise in mobility, principally as a result of increased wealth, advances in technology and business practice and investment in transport infrastructure. Associated with this rise is a wide range of negative impacts in the form of congestion, accidents, air and noise pollution, landscape destruction, urban sprawl and waste generation. Moreover, since private car use has made the most significant contribution to this increase in mobility, the accrued benefits have not always been distributed uniformly across society. Perhaps most importantly of all, transport accounts for approximately one-third of the UK's total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Finding sustainable solutions to these problems presents many challenges. Whilst there is general agreement about the problems transport causes, there is less agreement over the aims of sustainable transport and the means remains a hotly disputed issue. Within this context, it is vital that the professional institutions lead this important debate and are able to respond to the demands placed upon them by government, industry and society at large.

The panellists were Malcolm Buchanan, Colin Buchanan & Partners; Bill Ure, Secretary of the Rail Passenger Users Committee for Scotland; Neil Greig, AA; Bob Armstrong, Scottish Director of the FTA; Graham Lawson, Head of Planning & Transportation, North Lanarkshire Council; and Graham Muirend, Director of the RTPI Scotland. The chairman was Alan Silver.

Malcolm Buchanan started the evening off with a short presentation on sustainability and transport policy. He outlined the various problems including those related to the environment, global warming and the depletion of natural resources. He pointed out that CO2 emissions had risen by 31% since 1750 and that global temperatures had risen on average by 0.6 C in the last 100 years. He looked at current developments and the associated transport problems and considered the various options available for various aspects of transport.

The panel was then asked a number of questions by the audience and these covered such topics as bus services, cycling, park and ride schemes and road pricing. Each panellist was able to put their viewpoint of how various schemes affected their own sector of the transport industry. It was also noteworthy how various aspect of transport impacted on others. For example, the creation of bus lanes also created difficulties for the distribution industry as delivery vehicles then have difficulties in making deliveries.

The evening ended with an informal social gathering during which snacks and wine were served.

Report by John Fender.


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