January 2016

Budget : more cash needed – but not yet!

Once again, the Parliament’s Infrastructure Committee has urged more cycling cash – but once again they have bottled out of saying where in the current budget it should come from.  They even want a ‘step change’ in funding – but in future years.  However, the 16/17 budget is still far from final, and our “politically realistic 1% proposal” is now being widely discussed…

Along with many organisations, and expert evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, Spokes supports 10% of all transport budgets being allocated to active travel.   Realistically, however, that cannot happen in the 16/17 budget which is now entering its final stages under an overall-majority government.  The 10% argument is now for Holyrood party manifestos and the elections for the next Parliament, as is being taken forward by WalkCycleVote.

For the 16/17 budget, therefore, Spokes is proposing a politically realistic option, to prevent the damage to cycling investment in many Scottish Councils which is otherwise likely.

Our proposal is to transfer a mere 1% of the trunk roads budget to active travel.   Councils are being told, except in care services, to take a 7% cut …. surely the government’s trunk road budget can manage 1% !!  [Incidentally, the huge 7% cuts to council cash will affect pothole repairs].

The Parliament’s Infrastructure Committee has been scrutinising the draft budget.  In its report on the draft budget, the Committee does recommend that if there is any roads underspending during 16/17, it should be transferred to active travel.   That is of course good, and may well happen, as it did this year, but it’s a real cop out given the Committee’s and the Scottish Government’s expressed wish to boost cycling and walking, and cut carbon emissions [see ‘Road & Rail emissions’ below].

The Committee also recommends for future years “a step change in the level of funding for sustainable and active travel” and “perhaps linking the budget to a percentage of the overall transport budget” [like Edinburgh Council] – both excellent recommendations which we strongly welcome, but relatively easy to say when they don’t affect the immediate budget.

Support for the Spokes 16/17 budget proposal

Our above proposal to transfer 1% of the trunk roads budget to active travel is being widely discussed and could still be adopted before the final vote on the budget at the end of February if there is enough pressure on MSPs …

What You can Do

  • Please support our proposal – email all your MSPs – find them at www.writetothem.com.  A short email is absolutely fine, saying why you’d like to see 1% of the 16/17 trunk roads budget transferred to cycling and/or walking.
  • If you have friends/colleagues, anywhere in Scotland, who share a concern about creating better conditions for cycling and walking – and starting now, not just in the year dot! – ask them to write too.

Road & Rail emissions – carbon impacts

On a related matter, the Infrastructure Committee’s report shows clearly how the Scottish Government’s trunk road expansion policy is set to worsen annual CO2 emissions…

Table 1: Transport Scotland‘s Estimated Net Emissions Impact of Individual Transport Infrastructure Projects – ktCO2e p.a.

  • A75 Dunragit Bypass +4.0
  • M74 Raith Interchange +10.0
  • M8 Associated Network Improvements +2.0
  • M8 Baillieston-Newhouse +30.0
  • A90 Balmedie-Tipperty +2.0
  • A90 Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road +10.0
  • Forth Replacement Crossing +20.0
  • Dualling of A9 “no figures available”
  • Dualling of A96 “no figures available”

Meanwhile the Edinburgh-Glasgow Rail Improvement Programme [EGIP] is set to cut emissions by 28kt p.a.

And yet, shockingly from a government supposedly wishing to cut emissions, the budget increases spending on trunk roads, whilst rail spending is reduced.

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