Consultation Digest (National) Issue 2, 11 December 2020: Will the Climate Change Plan be the perfect Christmas gift?

Welcome to the second national consultation digest, December’s round up of current and forthcoming consultations from Scotland and the UK, written by me, Jim Densham. Like me, I’m sure you are looking forward to winding down for Christmas and not thinking about consultation responses over the festive period. However, there’s still a few consultations out there needing our attention and an important one coming next week.

This edition of the digest comes just a few days ahead of the Scottish Government publishing its updated Climate Change Plan. The Scottish Parliament will be leading on scrutinising this vital plan which aims to put in place improved policies and measures to ensure Scotland achieves its climate targets up to 2032. With the eyes of the world on Glasgow next November for COP26 the Scottish Government must show that it is seriously committed to meeting targets – especially when it comes to emissions from transport. And not just doing the bare minimum to scrape through but really making an effort to be a leader and aiming to exceed the targets with room to spare. So you never know it might be the perfect Christmas gift!

Time will be limited to provide your comments to the relevant Parliamentary Committee so do look at all the links in the forthcoming consultations section below.

Section 1: Current Consultations

(in date order for responses)

1.1: Scottish Government – Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 – a draft new air quality strategy for Scotland

Consultation on a draft new air quality strategy for Scotland, taking into account the recommendations arising from the independent review of the Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy. Chapter 8 is all about transport actions so lots of opportunity to say what we need for active travel. It’s worth looking at and responding, even if you only answer this one question.

Closes 22 January 2021

1.2: *NEW* Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4): position statement

Following the woeful Infrastructure Investment Plan which closed for consultation last month, the government has issued a position statement on the NPF4 and is seeking opinions. The main NPF4 is still to come next year so this consultation is asking what we all think about the Scottish Government’s direction of travel. Achieving climate emission targets is a big theme in this document along with resilient, greener, better communities and places. I will analyse this in more detail in next month’s digest.

Closes 19 February 2021

1.3: *NEW* A82 improvements survey

Kate Forbes MSP is using a survey to seek opinions on which sections of the A82 Glasgow to Inverness road are in most need of improvement in order to reduce traffic crashes and collisions. Read more here.

Section 2: Forthcoming Consultations

2.1: *COMING SOON* Climate Change Plan Update

We expect the Scottish Government to lay its updated Climate Change Plan in the Scottish Parliament in the next few days. Parliament’s Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) are then likely to coordinate the hearing of evidence on the revised plan. See the ECCLR climate change page for more details next week. We know that various committees will be hearing evidence in sessions from early January so time is short to influence MSPs thinking.

The Climate Change Plan will not be a brand new plan but a revision of the current CCP, providing extra policies designed to achieve strengthened targets.  Transport is the sector contributing the most emissions of any sector in Scotland and has not cut its emissions in 30 years. Policies are desperately needed to reduce private vehicle use, boost public transport and of course encourage more people to take short everyday journeys by foot or cycle. Keep an eye on the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland website for up to date news about the coalition’s reaction. SCCS will be calling for the CCPU to include policies which will create the change needed, such as:

  • An end to all new trunk road and motorway building.
  • Increase in the active travel budget to spend at least 10% of the transport budget and realign transport spending to reflect the sustainable travel hierarchy. Plus:
    • Create cycle lanes physically separated from traffic along arterial routes into all towns and cities                              
    • A network of walking and cycling infrastructure in each town and city, including on-road quiet routes, LTNs and off-road routes.
    • Safe pedestrian and cycle access into villages
    • Integration of walking and cycling with public transport, especially in rural areas
    • Support for bike hire schemes
  • A city-wide zero emission zone in operation in every city by 2030 supported by freight consolidation centres outside the zones to facilitate deliveries by cargo bike and zero emission vans.
  • Extension to concessionary fares schemes.

2.2: Scottish Government – Permitted Development Rights (phase 2)

The first phase of the Scottish Government’s consultation on Permitted Development Rights closed last month. Phase 2 of the consultation is due in the new year and will cover permitted development rights for e-bike charging points.

2.3: Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2)

The Scottish Government’s STPR2 is timetabled for the new year and is likely to see more work and consultation on the options.  See here for more information and links to previous STPR2 documents.

Section 3: Consultation Feedback

3.1: Road Collision Reporting Guidelines

Tricia Fort responded in a personal capacity to this consultation, outlined in Digest 71, Item 1.6. Here’s the response she received.

Dear Subscriber

Firstly, a belated thank you for your interest in our Road Collision Reporting Guidelines. We were overwhelmed with the response to our consultation and have received a lot of great feedback from individuals and organisations with expertise, experience or simply an interest in the topic.

The draft guidelines were produced in collaboration with those in roads policing, academia, law, road safety and media. In total we received 164 responses to our consultation via email, our web form and in one-to-one interviews.

The response to the draft guidelines was overwhelmingly positive, with 95% of people saying they supported the principles of what we are trying to achieve.

As well as insight from organisations on how the language around road collisions affects their work we were struck by the number of responses from individuals simply concerned other road users’ attitudes result in them feeling unsafe on the roads, particularly while cycling – attitudes they feel could be improved with more mature, nuanced public discourse on road safety.

We know language matters, and that the way we talk about road collisions affects how we perceive levels of risk, where it comes from and what we can do about it as a society.

We also know that, more than ever, journalists’ jobs are challenging, working with restricted budgets, and that journalists are increasingly on the receiving end of abuse, both online and offline. Our aim is to make their jobs easier by helping provide guidance for reporting on road collisions that allows for accurate and fair reporting – without hindering their vital work.

Based on constructive feedback, and on reflection, we feel the guidelines, if they are to meet these aims, need some finessing. They need to be more concise and easier to follow, with clearly defined rationale behind them.

We originally set ourselves the challenge of launching the guidelines at last night’s Active Travel Media Awards but we have decided to delay launching them until Spring 2021. We are a small team and we want to get this important work right.

In the meantime, we plan to have further conversations across journalism and road safety organisations and keep working to produce something we can be proud of, that has real value.

We still very much believe in the need for these guidelines and we look forward to publishing something that ultimately helps us shape safer roads for all road users, and contributes positively to media discourse in this field.

We will keep you updated over the coming months.

All the best

The RC-RG team”