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The CILT(UK) Scottish Region Annual Sustainable Transport Event: "A Sustainable Transport Strategy for 21st Century Scotland" by Paul Tetlaw: Edinburgh meeting of 13th February 2007.

Paul Tetlaw the Chair of TRANSform Scotland addressed the Scottish region on a sustainable transport strategy for 21st century Scotland. Before looking in detail at the strategy he outlined what transform Scotland as an organisation does. TRANSform Scotland is the National sustainable transport alliance and is the only organisation working across all areas of sustainable transport and campaigns for a more sensible transport system.

Paul Tetlaw, Chair of TRANSform Scotlandd

Paul Tetlaw, Chair of Transform Scotland.

© TRANSform Scotland 2007

TRANSform Scotland undertakes a wide range of activities including research, projects, and publishers a wide range of publications. It also organises various events on sustainable transport. Some of the campaigns are for better public transport, reduced traffic, sustainable investment, and socially just healthy transport.

Currently there are over 60 members from the public, private and voluntary sectors. These include major transport operators, businesses and local campaigning groups.

Turning to the challenges that are faced Paul Tetlaw firstly looked at climate change. He pointed out that transport is one of the main contributors of greenhouse gas emissions and in 2004 was responsible for 26 per cent of the UK's total emissions. Between 1990 and 2004 greenhouse gas emissions from transport increased by 51 per cent.

The recent Stern Review of The Economics of Climate Change made it clear that we have to act to reduce emissions. All though the UK is responsible for less than three per cent of global emissions stern pointed out that climate change could shrink global economies by around 20 per cent but by taking action now, it could only cost one per cent global GDP.

Turning to the question of oil Paul Tetlaw noted that 67 per cent of the UK oil consumption is used for transport and 98 per cent of the fuel used by transport is oil. However, there is a growing gap between oil production and discoveries of oil reserves. Since the 1960's oil discoveries have been declining whilst demand for and use of oil has been increasing. It is clear that in time oil will become scarcer and we urgently need to move to a low carbon economy and reduce our dependence on oil, something that the United States has already acknowledged needs to be done.

Looking at trends in traffic Paul noted that to road traffic is still growing and people are travelling further than before to do the same things. Unsustainable modes are taking over from sustainable modes and figures from the Department for Transport show that over the long term passenger travel has increased significantly in cars and vans whilst other modes have declined. Some 40 per cent of all trips are less than two miles in length and 67 per cent of trips are less than five miles in length. The figures also show that car trips are predominantly local with 26 per cent of trips being of less than two miles and 56 per cent less than five miles.

However, the question of productivity by sitting in a traffic jam arises and there are financial benefits to employers to use other modes of transport such as the real. Compared to road transport, rail offers safety benefits as well as saving on car-parking charges and fleet management costs. The Eddington Report recognised critical links between transport and economic competitiveness and focused on congested urban areas and key interurban corridors. A key recommendation was that road pricing be implemented and that all forms of transport pay their external costs. However, it was noted that road transport at present only pays around a half to a third of its external costs with the balance being paid by the rest of us. Essentially the only way to tackle congestion is for some form of road pricing or a road user charging to be applied.

Our current lifestyles with the car as a centre piece have other consequences to. For example people are less active as the use the car as much as they can and this leads to health problems. The government is concerned with obesity and this can be partially attributed to inactive lifestyles. Air pollution is another health problem and vehicle emissions are a significant part of this. It is important that people change their travel behaviour but in order to encourage them to do so there needs to be sustainable investment. For example health-giving modes of transport should be prioritised and there should be investment in local bus, tram and rail services. The Scottish InterCity rail network also needs investment and a nationwide programme of smarter choices should be delivered. Some of the previous decisions are open to question for example the subsidies given to short-haul aviation or the construction of an elevated motorway through the centre of Glasgow. At current issue is the question of the second Forth crossing that will effectively double the road capacity.

Rounding of his presentation Paul Tetlaw looked at the benefits of sustainable transport and said that it was important to reduce dependence on scarce and depleting natural resources. Sustainable transport would also lead to a more productive workforce and a healthier, more inclusive society. More importantly it could help to avoid future economic disaster.

Full details of the activities of TRANSform Scotland can be found on their website at

Report by John Fender.


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