Responding to details of the budget agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson said:

“Scotland badly needs a shake-up in our transport system and, from the announcements so far, this budget agreement appears to represent a strong step in the right direction. Expanding free bus travel to young people, and an increase in funding for walking and cycling is recognition that our priorities on transport must change.

“These positive changes could be easily funded by a halt to motorway expansion, on which we spend billions and only get more congestion and more emissions in return. In a climate emergency you must stop doing the things that are making it worse. Transport is our biggest polluter, making up 37% of Scotland’s climate emissions, so transformative action is desperately needed.

“Free bus travel for those aged 18 and under is a great start to changing this broken transport system. Young people should be able to use public transport as default, instead of needing to buy a car to get around. Many of our essential services are free-at-the-point-of-use and public transport should be no different. This needs to be coupled with measures to discourage car use, to reduce congestion, improve bus journey times and reliability, and persuade commuters from cars to speedy, affordable bus travel”.

“Well done to the SNP and Greens for this agreement, a big improvement on the draft budget we saw a couple of weeks ago, and moves it closer to the Climate Emergency budget the Government claimed it would be.

“The increase in the active travel budget, which funds space for walking and cycling, from £80m to £100m a year is also welcome news. Walking and cycling need to be the obvious choice of travel for shorter journeys in towns and cities. This means we need better pavements, and segregated cycling lanes.”


Notes to Editors

1. Details of the Scottish Budget deal between Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens https://news.gov.scot/news/budget-agreement-reached 

2. Earlier this month, Friends of the Earth Scotland urged the Government to divert funding from new motorway projects to sustainable transport in today’s budget. https://foe.scot/press-release/reckless-road-spending-plans-must-be-redirected-in-climate-emergency/

3. The 2017 Greenhouse Gas Emissions statistics show road transport is the biggest emitter in Scotland (p.19). https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/statistics/2019/06/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/documents/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/govscot%3Adocument/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017.pdf

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland recently published data showing 7 locations in Scotland are still breaching legal air quality legal limits, ten years after they should have been met.

5. It is estimated that air pollution costs the Scottish economy over £1.1 billion each year in days lost at work and costs to the NHS. (Extrapolated from a Defra assessment that air pollution costs the UK economy as a whole £16 bn per year, based on 29,000 UK- wide deaths from air pollution: Defra, “Impact pathway guidance for valuing changes in air quality” (May 2013))

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.