Transport Bill will be first real test of climate commitments, say campaigners
The final stage of the Transport Bill today (9/10/19) affords politicians an opportunity to take real action on climate targets, say campaigners. The Stage 3 debate will see MSPs voting on amendments relating to low emission zones, council-run bus services, pavement parking, and workplace parking levy powers.
The vote comes just a fortnight after MSPs unanimously agreed to increase Scotland’s 2030 climate emission reductions target to a 75% reduction from 1990 levels. Transport is Scotland’s biggest emitting sectors, so meeting this improved target will require action to reduce fossil fuelled traffic.
Key parts of the BIll expected to be debated include
- Workplace parking levy powers – possible exemptions for vehicles or areas.
- Low Emission Zones – timescales for implementation, and exemptions.
- Public ownership of buses.
- Pavement parking and double parking.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner, Gavin Thomson, said:
“MSPs recently committed to rapidly bring down Scotland’s climate emissions. The final stage of the Transport Bill represents the first real world test of whether they’re willing to realise these increased ambitions. There is an opportunity for the Transport Bill to help Scotland, particularly our cities, transition to greener transport, improving our air quality and reducing our climate emissions.
“Air pollution is causing a public health crisis, with 2,500 premature deaths every year. Emissions from transport are responsible for a range of health problems, including heart attacks, stroke, and asthma, and young children and the elderly are particularly at risk. Low Emission Zones will improve the air we breathe, by restricting the most polluting vehicles from cities. However, the planned 6-year ‘grace periods’ will condemn us to another 6 years of illegal, toxic air. MSPs who are concerned about ensuring our air is safe to breath must support amendments that speed up the introduction of Low Emission Zones.
“Of all the proposals within the Bill, the workplace parking levy powers have received the most coverage, and the most cynical distortion. Workplace parking levies have a track record of bringing much needed investment to transport infrastructure, and creating healthier places to live and work. They are an optional power being offered to councils, and Edinburgh and Glasgow Councils both formally asked the Scottish Government for this tool to cut traffic. It won’t be right for every area, but it will combat congestion and air pollution in our city centres. If MSPs are prepared to follow through on their climate commitments, they need to recognise this means changing our polluting, dangerous transport system. Cars must be deprioritised, and public transport needs investment and support. Opposing, or watering down, these powers, is completely at odds with the agreement made by MSPs 2 weeks ago.”
Notes to Editors
1. The Scottish Parliament will vote for amendments for Stage 3 of the Transport Bill on Wednesday 9th October afternoon, and vote for the Bill as a whole on Thursday 10th October afternoon: https://bb.parliament.scot/#20191009
2. The Transport Bill, in current form is available here: https://www.parliament.scot/S5_Bills/Transport%20(Scotland)%20Bill/SPBill33AS052019.pdf
The amendments tabled for Stage 3 are here: https://www.parliament.scot/S5_Bills/Transport%20(Scotland)%20Bill/SPBill33AGS052019.pdf
Amendments to the Transport Bill have also been tabled which take into account the recently passed Climate Bill. For example, the Scottish Government have amended Low Emission Zone legislation to ensure the zones aim to reduce climate emissions as well as improving air quality.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s briefing, recommending which amendments MSPs should support, is available here: https://foe.scot/resource/transport-bill-stage-3-briefing-msps/
3. LEZs were first proposed in 2015. The SNP 2016 Scottish Election manifesto promised a Low Emission Zone by 2018. The Glasgow SNP promised an LEZ for the city in their 2017 Council Election manifesto. In September 2017 the Government confirmed the first LEZ would be in Glasgow and there would be further Zones in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh by 2020.
4. Glasgow City Council formally asked the Scottish Government for Workplace Parking Levy powers.
City of Edinburgh Council replied to the Transport Bill initial consultation saying that Workplace Parking Levy powers should be added.
The levy has worked well in Nottingham, introduced and run by a Labour council. https://www.citymetric.com/transport/why-other-cities-should-copy-nottinghams-revolutionary-parking-levy-2382
A previous Scottish Government, led by Scottish Labour, advocated for the Workplace Parking Levy. The measures were contained in a discussion document published by former Transport Minister Sarah Boyack on different ways to tackle Scotland’s increasing traffic congestion. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/392334.stm
5. Scottish Parliament has new Climate Legislation. 25 Sep 2019. https://www.stopclimatechaos.scot/climatebill/
In 2017, road transport was the largest source of emissions in Scotland. Road transport emissions have increased by 11.1 per cent between 1990 and 2017.
Transport (excluding International Aviation and Shipping) was responsible for 32.1% of Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2017. https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2017/pages/3/
6. Health impacts of air pollution:
– Friends of the Earth Scotland estimate that 2500 people die early each year from air pollution in Scotland alone: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/RCP-Report
– Air pollution, at levels seen on Scottish streets, has been linked with :
– Respiratory illness including asthma and COPD
– Heart attacks and strokes
– Low birthweight and delayed development in babies whose mothers have been exposed
– Poor lung development in children
– Children, the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions, and sick are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
– (for more, see the Royal College of Physicians’ 2016 report, “Every Breath we Take: The lifelong impact of air pollution”: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution)
7. Majority of Scots back public ownership of bus services, new poll finds (July 2018) https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/12982/majority-scots-back-public-ownership-bus-services-new-poll-finds
8. Number of bus journeys in Scotland fall by 100 million over decade (Feb 2019)
Transport and Travel Statistics from Scottish Government (Sep 2018) https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/transport-and-travel-in-scotland-2017/sct08183658301-11/
9. SPICe report on buses in Scotland. Page 9 highlights regional differences in the falling of passenger numbers. https://sp-bpr-en-prod-cdnep.azureedge.net/published/2018/9/3/Transport–Scotland–Bill–Buses/SB%2018-54.pdf
10. Free-to-use photos of protests calling for better public transport are available here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmEcX3yW
11. 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 some 5,000 local activist groups.