Consultation Digest (National) Issue 6, 11 June 2021: Proposals could make it easier to trial cycling infrastructure

We’ve had a break from national consultations during April and May because the usual bubbling spring of consultations dries up during an election. The new Government is now consulting on Traffic Regulation Orders and this could result in regulatory changes making it easier for Local Authorities to trial changes, such as installing new cycle lanes or experimenting with reduced speed limits.

As the new Scottish Government (albeit similar to the last one) begins its work there are a couple of consultations to point you towards this month, as well as a chance to look ahead to what might be coming up for the rest of the year.  

As we all know the SNP won the election but didn’t secure a majority in Parliament. Talks continue with the Greens about a more formal political arrangement.  Michael Matheson MSP remains as Cabinet Secretary covering transport but his remit is expanded to Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Minister for Transport; Graeme Dey MSP

There’s also a new Minister for Transport who has responsibility for active travel with Graeme Dey MSP appointed to this new role.

In the year when COP26 comes to Glasgow it’s hopefully a sign of the importance and priority that Nicola Sturgeon is placing on addressing the climate emergency and achieving Scotland’s emission reduction targets – and with transport remaining the sector contributing the most emissions it’s good to see transport as part of the Cabinet Secretary’s brief.

The SNP’s manifesto had the eye-catching free bikes for kids promise. This also appeared in the SNP’s first 100 days document, so we expect government to be developing this policy through the summer.

Government officials will also be beavering away developing the Programme for Government, usually published at the beginning of September. This and the later Budget will really show if the Scottish Government is serious about urgent investment in active travel and quicker roll out of active travel infrastructure.

This year we also expect consultations on the ‘roadmap’ to achieve the 20% car km reduction target, and for the second phase of the Strategic Transport Project Review 2.

Section 1: Current Consultations

(in date order for responses)

1.1: Scottish Government – Local Place Plan Regulations

This consultation is about how Local Place Plans (LPPs) are developed rather than the need for them. LPPs stem from the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, and as the consultation document says:

Improving community involvement in the planning system was a key aim of planning reform from the outset. The independent planning review recommended that communities should be empowered to bring forward their own LPPs, and these should form part of the development plan.’

Local Place Plans offer the opportunity for a community led, but collaborative, approach to creating great local places. LPPs can support community aspirations on the big challenges for a future Scotland such as responding to the global climate emergency and tackling inequalities. It is vital that local people have the opportunity to engage meaningfully and have a positive influence in the future planning of development in their areas.’

Local Place Plans could be key to improving greenspace and active travel infrastructure in our communities – making places for people to enjoy and thrive in.

Closes 25 June 2021

1.2: Transport Scotland – Traffic Regulation Orders

Following the attempt by Mark Ruskell MSP in 2019 to bring a 20mph Bill to Parliament the Government agreed to review Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) – the regulations covering how local authorities can make changes to roads, from installing a cycle lane to changing parking restrictions.

Despite Mark Ruskell’s bill failing to become law Government was open to streamlining processes for councils to make changes. There are many examples of cycle lanes being held up by procedural red tape and disproportionate emphasis placed on objections.

If Scotland is to roll out safe cycling infrastructure at the rate needed to get people cycling and meet our climate targets, Government must enable councils to make changes quickly and have confidence that they are doing so for the greater good rather than needing to respond to objections from a few loud voices.

During the lockdown last year councils across Scotland used Temporary TRO legislation to install infrastructure. However, one of the consultation proposals aims to make Experimental TROs (ETROs) more useful for trialling measures before deciding if they should become permanent.

The proposals are welcome and we should support them as it gives councils the opportunity to see if measures work and to collect responses from the community as the experiment continues. The idea is that changes could be made during the experimental period.

In responding to Q7 of the consultation I would advise that when deciding whether a measure should be made permanent after the experimental period, Government and local authorities should put more emphasis on opinions once the trial has had time to bed in rather than at the beginning. Councils should pay more attention to data on community response to the scheme near the end of the trial rather than knee-jerk reactions to change and loud shouts at the beginning.

In setting up an ETRO local authorities should set clear objectives for the change being made and establish a proportionate monitoring process.

The consultation also asks for views on changing regulations on Loading Restrictions. We believe there is a clear need to revise the legislation in relation to holding a Public Local Inquiry (PLI) where there are objections to TROs containing loading or unloading restrictions. For example it’s wrong for one business to hold up a new cycle lane where many people benefit just because they can’t unload outside their premises.

Finally the consultations asks for opinions on Redetermination Orders – for changing the use of a road or path, for example to allow a path to be used by cyclists. This is important but I haven’t quite got to the bottom of this regulation yet. However, any responses should be clear that, Q9, the procedures regarding redetermination orders need to change and Q10, legislation should be reviewed.

I will be looking at this consultation in more detail in the coming weeks so look out for this in next month’s digest or on Cycling UK’s campaigning in Scotland webpages.

Closes 30 July 2021

1.3: Transport Scotland – Workplace Parking Licensing – Consultation on Regulations and Guidance

This consultation landed just hours ago so little time to bite into, let alone digest this one. The consultation introduction s explains:

This consultation on Workplace Parking Licensing (WPL) Scheme regulations and guidance gives us an opportunity to seek your opinions on the regulatory framework and supporting guidance which will underpin local authorities’ WPL schemes, should they choose to implement WPL.’

This consultation is not about the design or implementation of any individual town or city-specific WPL scheme. Local authorities will be required to undertake a consultation on their local schemes.

Closes 6 September 2021

Section 2: Forthcoming Consultations

None expected

Section 3: Consultation Feedback

No feedback this month