Infrastructure Investment Plan jeopardises Scottish climate targets

Environmental and sustainable transport campaigners have warned that by pouring billions into motorways and road building programmes the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Plan fails to fund the urgent investment needed to cut carbon emissions and create a genuinely sustainable economy.

The plan set out by the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Alex Neil, proposes over £6 billion for road schemes, including dualling the A9. While there is significant rail investment, including an upgrade to the Highland main line, campaigners are concerned that this may be given secondary priority to road programmes.

Friends of the Earth Scotland and Transform Scotland, the national alliance for sustainable transport, are calling for the Government to rethink its priorities away from road building.

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“The Government are proposing the largest road-building programme since the Thatcher Government of the 1980s. This would undoubtedly increase carbon emissions while simultaneously sucking investment away from much needed investment in public transport, walking and cycling measures.”

“It’s also disappointing that the Government don’t set out how much money they will put into their own low carbon transport measures. These measures are described – and costed – in detail in the Government’s own plan to meet its climate targets, the ‘Report on Proposals and Policies’, yet this information is worryingly absent from Alex Neil’s plans.”

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“While the plans for investing in the Scottish rail network are commendable, it’s unfortunate that many of these are not scheduled to commence until after the A9 dualling project. While there may be a case for enhancements on certain sections of the A9 to improve safety, the key intervention that it could drive forward swiftly is the installation of average speed cameras along its entire length. These have a proven track record of reducing accidents on once notorious stretches of roads such as the A77.

“While a long-term investment plan for transport is necessary, we are not persuaded that this plan, nor the Government’s current spending priorities, will deliver on our legal commitments to reduce carbon emissions. In the Budget debates over the next two months the Government must give far higher priority to the local, small-scale infrastructure investment that can not only reduce emissions but support the Scottish economy.”

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. 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, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk

2. Transform Scotland is the national sustainable transport alliance, bringing together rail, bus and shipping operators, local authorities, national environment and conservation groups, businesses and local transport groups – see
www.transformscotland.org.uk/members.aspx