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A Low Carbon Economic Strategy for Scotland: Scotland - A Low Carbon Society


2.4 Decarbonising Transport

An efficient transport system is a key enabler for enhanced productivity and delivering Government's overarching Purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth. Since 2007, the Scottish Government has prioritised improvements to Scotland's transport system through the Government Economic Strategy.

Section 2 discusses the strategic objectives previously outlined in section 1.3 of the strategy and economic opportunities which relate specifically to transport. Associated actions are described in Section 1.3. These relate closely to the actions set out in the Scottish Government's Energy Efficiency Action Plan 79 of the strategy. Wider issues relating to business and industry, energy, the built environment and land-based industries are dealt with in other parts of Section 2.

Transforming the Transport Sector

The National Transport Strategy published in 2006, was founded on three key strategic outcomes focused on improving journey times and connections; improving quality, access and affordability, and reducing emissions. These continue to be the foundation of the approach to transport policy and investment. When planning transport infrastructure, the Scottish Government uses an investment hierarchy of:

  • maintaining and safely operating existing assets;
  • making better use of existing capacity; and
  • targeted infrastructure improvements.

The Climate Change Delivery Plan suggests that, if we are to reduce total emissions in Scotland by at least 42% by 2020, transport emissions need to be reduced by 27%. The Committee on Climate Change identified that in order to achieve this target, air travel has to be capped to at least pre-2005 levels which will increase the level of cuts required elsewhere 80. The Delivery Plan also states that, by 2030, good progress should be made towards decarbonisation of all road transport. There is also a target for 10% renewable energy use in transport by 2020, in line with the mandatory EU target set for each Member State. While the main policy drivers to effect reductions in transport emissions lie with the EU or the UK Government, the Scottish Government has identified a range of devolved policies which will make a significant impact.

Transport is a major contributor of greenhouse gases, adding 14.4 Mt of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere in 2008; 26% of all Scotland's emissions. Approximately 69% of transport emissions come from road vehicles, with maritime contributing 15% and aviation 12%.

Major emission reductions from transport are not expected to materialise until the medium and longer terms and will be largely underpinned by technology advances, and their widespread uptake. The European Environment Agency recently warned that: unfortunately traffic levels are growing at around the same rate as average emissions are projected to fall, meaning that the net effect may still be far from what we need 81. This emphasises the need for effective local policy aimed at influencing planning and transport behaviour.

The achievement of emission reductions in the shorter term requires changes now in our travel and transport behaviours. Strategic Development Plans ( SDP) provide an opportunity to influence the transport system infrastructure people utilise to travel at a city region level. The plans can help to influence travel habits, reduce congestion and address the poor air quality that currently exists in all of Scotland's major city centres. The strategic nature of the plans provides a means of tackling the growing problem of commuter traffic.

The Scottish Government is developing transport policy options around three strategic objectives to reduce transport emissions: reducing the need for travel; widening travel choices and increasing energy efficient driving, encouraging the need for widespread uptake of low carbon options such as electric vehicles.

There are a range of barriers and drivers influencing the transition:


  • high unit costs for low carbon vehicles;
  • lack of recharging/refuelling infrastructure;
  • current cultural norms;
  • current low cost flights; and
  • Relative lower costs and ease of travel using private rather than public transport.


  • fuel security;
  • rising fuel costs; and
  • growth of global demand for low carbon vehicle technologies.

Market Opportunities

As described in Section 1 of the strategy, Scotland's economic development priorities relate to renewable energy and the broader low carbon and environmental goods and service sector, specifically 'Environmental and Clean Technologies'. One of the five ECT sub-sectors offering the greatest economic potential for Scotland is Sustainable Transport e.g. low carbon vehicles and intelligent transport.

Low Carbon Vehicles

While forecasting the rate of technological development is extremely difficult, global demand for low carbon vehicle technology is expected to grow exponentially over the next 20 years in response to demand for renewable energy, rising fossil fuel prices, the need for secure fuel supply, and new technology investment. With a global market of £345 billion for alternative fuel vehicles and £0.5 billion in Scotland, the sustainable transport sector presents a growing opportunity for the Scottish economy 82.

Over the next three to five years the sector will see the development of an 'early adopters market', where low carbon vehicles are deployed in public and private sector fleets to demonstrate feasibility and to stimulate popular demand. In addition, demand for supporting infrastructure will encourage innovation and offer commercial opportunities for organisations participating in new global supply chains.

While Scotland has no major indigenous car manufacturing industry, Scottish companies have emergent capability in niche vehicle manufacturing and are already bringing prototypes to market. These companies include Allied Vehicles (electric vehicles), Green Machines from Tennant Company (electric sweepers), Axeon (batteries), Alexander Dennis (hybrid buses) and Artemis Intelligent Power (hybrid car and truck transmissions) and ABSL (hybrid powered armoured personnel carriers). Sustainable transport offers a real opportunity to re-focus Scotland's expertise in high value manufacturing into a new, dynamic and rapidly growing market for low carbon vehicles. This includes electric vehicles, hybrids (combining electric and conventional engines) and alternative fuels such as hydrogen and biomethane.

The opportunity for Scotland lies in niche vehicles, which will be produced in volumes of thousands per annum rather than high volume automotive, (which will continue to be dominated by the large car manufacturers). Examples are road sweepers, ferries, sub-sea exploration vehicles and electric utility vehicles for airports.

Scotland has a rich history of success in high value manufacturing. We have the skills, culture and supply chains to support successful industries in the design, development and production of high value products. Where these are manufactured in low to medium volumes we have been proven to be globally competitive, over many decades, in sectors such as aerospace and defence, engineering and electronics.

Applied Sweepers Green Machines

Part of the Tennant Group Applied Sweepers now know as Green Machines, a Falkirk based company have developed and launched the world's first electric road sweeper.

When travelling it is virtually silent allowing early morning or late night sweeping to take place with minimum impact on either workers or residents. Power is provided by twin Lithium Ion battery packs and this means the road sweeper produces zero engine or CO 2 emissions. The ability to provide an 8 hour sweeping time on one charge and the capability to recharge in just 4 hours allows the machine to meet the needs of the most demanding requirements.

This new machine resulted in the Company being selected for a prestigious Ruban d'Honneur in the European Business Award which celebrates businesses that demonstrate exceptional performance within their sector.

Our ambitions to harness our vast renewable energy resource could give Scotland an advantage in the development of hydrogen fuelled vehicles, in the long-term and perhaps initially for niche markets. In order to seize the transport fuel opportunities potentially available from hydrogen further research and development work will be necessary.

Edinburgh Napier University/Argent Energy

Edinburgh Napier University launched its Biofuel Business Programme in June 2010, the first of its kind in the UK, it is intended to work with companies to find innovative ways of converting waste products into fuel. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Government's SEEKIT programme, the Biofuel Research Centre is part of the University's new Institute for Science & Health Innovation. As part of a £12m investment, the nine new institutes at Edinburgh Napier are designed to act as one-stop shop for businesses to access expertise, research, facilities and product testing.

Companies already successfully using such techniques include Argent Energy, the Motherwell based company that produces biodiesel from tallow and used cooking oil by-products. The Group commenced production in March 2005 and was the first large scale producer of biodiesel in the UK. The Motherwell plant is currently producing a weekly average of at least 875 tonnes (approximately 1 million litres), representing over 90% of the plant's weekly production capacity

Intelligent Transport Systems

The application of Intelligent Transport Systems ( ITS) is fundamental to any low carbon transport system. ITS includes a variety of technology based 'tools' to make the most efficient use of a low carbon trunk road network by monitoring conditions, controlling traffic and informing motorists of conditions. Tools could include variable speed limits, variable message signs, ramp metering and average speed enforcement as appropriate, and targeted use of the hard shoulder as an additional 'managed lane' for priority vehicles.

As outlined in the Strategic Transport Projects Review, the use of ITS to actively manage the most congested parts of Scotland's trunk road network will improve safety, journey time reliability and in some cases result in journey time savings. Smoother traffic flows can also result in a reduction in emissions per vehicle and reduced fuel consumption.

Scotland's strength in Intelligent Transport Systems ( ITS) is demonstrated by the presence of three industry leaders, (Mott MacDonald, Atkins and IBI Group) who each have their global ITS departments (or significant project teams) located here. The company base also includes many dynamic small and medium sized companies such as Bitwise (embedded software), Coeval (traffic management), JMW (traffic control infrastructure), Journey Plan (digital mapping) and Indigo Vision (security management). This combination makes Scotland one of the leading ITS players in both UK and European terms.

The EU anticipates the emergence of 600,000 new, high skilled jobs across Europe to develop software intensive systems on road and in-car over the next 10 years 83. In its associated Directive, the EU has provided a framework for the deployment of ITS across Member States. Priority actions include the deployment of EU-wide multimodal travel information services, real-time traffic information services and road safety related traffic information services.

The 2010 EU Directive 84 on ITS opens up commercial opportunities for Scottish companies in hardware, software and systems development. Given Scotland's strengths in this area, companies can position themselves to take advantage of the emerging opportunities. These include applications which allow travellers to get information 'in trip' through mobile and in car devices and, in future, through the development of cooperative ITS systems which allow infrastructure to vehicle and vehicle to vehicle communication. The Scottish Government's promotion and investment in ITS to maximise the efficiency of its strategic road network will help drive forward this market. In order to implement these measures and to adequately monitor and evaluate the impacts of these changes, a variety of technologies are required. As the operation of the strategic networks is optimized, opportunities will be open to organizations developing supporting technologies in these areas.

As a result of technology it has developed in Scotland Artemis Intelligent Power has introduced a new type of hybrid car and truck transmission. The new system came about from a project funded by the UK Department for Transport and the Energy Saving Trust. Independent tests on the prototype car a BMW 530i car, demonstrated a significant increase in MPG in city driving compared to the same car with a manual transmission. Overall, including highway driving, the prototype recorded 30% lower CO 2 emissions than it had before the company fitted its energy saving transmission.

It is thought that commercial vehicles rather than passenger cars will be the first on-highway vehicles to be fitted with the new transmissions. Commercial vehicles make up almost 20% of road traffic in the UK, but contribute disproportionately to the country's emissions because of their higher weight and high annual mileage.

Strategic objectives for Government and wider public sector

The Scottish Government and its agencies have key responsibilities both to set the framework for the transformation required in the transport system, and to encourage a positive response to the market opportunities these changes represent through policy and operation. These objectives are summarised with associated actions in section 1.3 of the strategy.

Objective 10: Reducing the need for travel.Promoting development which reduces the need to travel, Facilitates travel by public transport and freight movement by rail or water, and provides safe and convenient opportunities for walking and cycling and invest in the necessary infrastructure to do so.

One way of reducing transport emissions is to reduce for the need for travel. While there will always be a significant number of people who need to commute to work and education, avoiding the daily commute is an aspiration shared by many. Scottish Planning Policy, implemented through the local planning system in the form of Strategic Development and Local Development Plans already promotes a pattern of development which reduces the need to travel, facilitates travel by public transport and freight movement by rail or water, and provides safe and convenient opportunities for walking and cycling. This Prioritises the needs of pedestrians and cyclists over those of private motor vehicles, ensuring connectivity to public transport and creating connected walkable neighbourhoods all help reduce car travel. These approaches to designing the built environment are all advocated in Designing Streets: A Policy Statement for Scotland85. This publication encourages a pattern of development which will create sustainable, mixed use developments with good access to shops, services and employment alongside housing. The Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative 86 is helping to generate good practice, by supporting the delivery of 11 exemplar developments.

We are considering the potential role of mixed use facilities or 'community hubs' in encouraging remote or teleworking in smaller communities and thus reducing commuting to our larger towns and cities. Such facilities will build on Scotland's digital communication strength's to also host a combination of other services benefiting communities and reducing the need to travel, as well as providing local business opportunities.

Objective 11: Widening travel choices.Encouraging lower carbon options, like public transport, car clubs, car sharing and cycling and walking.

It is generally recognised that public transport, car clubs, car sharing, and cycling and walking represent lower cost and lower carbon options to the private car. Nevertheless, there is not as wide spread use of as there might be. Over 50% of all car journeys made are under 5km, and 40% are under 3km 87. Low carbon options can bring financial, health and environmental benefits to businesses and households

Cycling and Walking

More cycling and walking brings major health as well as environmental benefits. The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland calls for a tenfold increase in the number of journeys undertaken by bicycle, and sets out a clear framework for its achievement with our partners in local government and other bodies. Road space reallocations, cycleways and other supporting infrastructure development will address safety concerns while cycle training will improve confidence. The creation of strategic routes for active travel is a key element of the Central Scotland Green Network initiative 88.

Government investment in the National Cycle Network ( NCN) has obvious benefits not only for commuter trips but also for the Scottish tourism. Over 1,900 miles of NCN in Scotland provides long distance cycling opportunities, but they also provide important community links to encourage local sustainable journeys.

In 2007, over 39 million journeys were made on the NCN in Scotland. Initial research carried out by Sustrans estimates that every cyclist on the UKNCN spends on average just over £5 in communities along the routes. Further research is expected in 2011. Cyclists and pedestrians are more likely to support neighbourhood shops and, with users of public transport, contribute to higher 'footfall', which can benefit smaller retailers and businesses.

Integrated Public Transport

The Government is seeking to increase the proportion of people using public transport by encouraging service and infrastructure quality improvements, journey time reliability and improved travel information in mobile, bus stop, and internet technology applications.

We will also seek to achieve a more coherent integration of bus, rail, light-rail and provision for cyclists, enabling reliable travel planning supported by integrated ticketing. Our long-term vision is for smart and integrated transport ticketing across modes and operators. Having now equipped the entire Scottish bus fleet with smart enabled ticketing equipment, we now have a substantial platform in which to encourage modal shift while reducing congestion and emissions. Reduced bus journey times will attract new patronage, reducing costs to operators and integrated ticketing time for rail passengers at gates and kiosks.

Electrification of the railways and High Speed Rail

The Strategic Transport Projects Review, published in 2008 89, established Scottish Ministers transport investment objectives for the next 20 years. It includes electrification of the Scottish strategic rail network, to be delivered in 5 phases. Moving from diesel to electric powered trains reduces journey times. The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with the UK Department for Transport to ensure Scotland's inclusion in a UK High Speed Rail network. By offering a low carbon alternative to domestic aviation, a full high speed connection, giving a three hour journey time between Scotland and London can make a longer term contribution to achieving Scotland's climate change targets while delivering economic benefits.

An assessment by Transport Scotland shows that the benefits to Scotland could be up to £20 billion over the standard appraisal period of 60 years, mainly due to reduced journey times. A further £5 billion of wider economic benefits could be realised through jobs being created in areas close to the line. This provides opportunities for Scottish firms to improve efficiency by enhancing connectivity and communication directly with suppliers, customers and other firms. They also have access to larger labour markets.

The infrastructure work required to electrify the strategic rail network will support jobs with the construction and wider transport sectors. This has already been demonstrated through the Airdrie to Bathgate project which has employed up to 900 people during construction.

Objective 12: Encouraging both energy efficient driving and supply chains.Creating a demand at home and internationally for Scottish expertise in low carbon transport technologies.

Low Carbon Vehicles

As discussed previously in this section, the early adoption of low carbon vehicle technologies is likely to be constrained initially by high upfront capital costs (generally double that of a fossil fuelled vehicle), uncertainties about their operational effectiveness (range of an electric vehicle is 60-100 miles) and refuelling options (for example, charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is starting to roll out but is in very early stages of development).

It is important to instil market confidence through interventions such as public sector procurement programmes which (a) provide greater visibility of low carbon vehicles on our streets and (b) test their effectiveness in a variety of urban and rural driving environments. There may be opportunities for Scottish research institutions in understanding the behaviours of people using these new vehicles.

The ECT Partnership 90 will bring forward an action plan in 2010 that will seek to create demand at home and abroad for Scottish expertise in low carbon transport technologies. Public sector leadership. Such leadership should give greater confidence to industry, in research centres and in the market; reduce unit costs and market prices substantially; and encourage yet further investment in our technology strengths. It is hoped that the growth of the LCV industry will encourage inward investment from the global motor industry, supporting further employment and research and development opportunities.

The Scottish Government already taken positive steps through the announcement in June 2010 of the Green Bus Fund and the Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Support scheme. The Green Bus Fund offers financial incentives to operators to hasten the introduction of low carbon buses across Scotland. As well as reducing emissions, the new buses will meet the latest air quality and accessibility regulations. The Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Support scheme, is supported by Local Authorities and through Community Planning Partnerships, offers public bodies the opportunity to add low carbon vehicles to their fleets at the same price as conventional vehicles, while also supporting associated infrastructure provision.

More Efficient Use of Existing Vehicles

Experience has shown that simple steps such as driving at optimum speeds, changing gear at the optimal times, maintaining tyre pressures at optimum levels and avoiding idling can reduce fossil fuel use and emissions by 10%.

It is estimated that providing eco-driving training to Scotland's three million drivers will require around 750,000 person hours of training over a five year period. There are clearly market opportunities for training providers in this, and for suppliers of on-board technologies which monitor and provide feedback to drivers on driving efficiencies.

Scottish Government, working across wider public sector, will encourage more efficient driving and reduced fuel consumption in the transport network by working with industry, motoring and freight organisations to establish how the driver training market can best deliver eco-driving training to improve vehicle efficiencies and reduce fuel consumption. We will also encourage the freight industry to reduce empty and partial-load running through collaborative approaches, and to reduce the overall number of freight journeys by increasing road freight vehicle capacity.


The Scottish Government and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd ( CMAL) are working with transport authorities in Ireland and Northern Ireland, with support from EU funding, on a joint project. This will examine the common design and procurement for small ferries to serve remote communities off the Scottish and Irish Coastlines. A key aspect of the work is to look at the suitability of hybrid diesel-electric engines for this purpose. CMAL is in contact with Scottish shipyards to ensure that indigenous firms are able to compete effectively for arising construction contracts.

Scottish Public Sector Procurement

As a major procurer of goods and services, government and wider public sector is in an excellent position to encourage the supply chain to be more sustainable in carrying out their functions. Since 2007, for example, Transport Scotland's work supports over 25% of the civil engineering contracting sector's workload in Scotland with over 95% of the agency's budget invested back into the private sector. Current investment across road and rail, whether in long-term operation and maintenance or in specific infrastructure construction, currently supports nearly 11,000 jobs.

The Scottish Sustainable Procurement Action Plan was launched in October 2009, provides a 10 step methodology for making sustainability part of everyday procurement 91.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 allows Ministers, by Order, to require public bodies to prepare reports on their compliance with the Public Sector Duties introduced by the Act. These reports must contain information relating to how their procurement policies and procurement activity have contributed to compliance with climate change duties.

It is clear that companies that position themselves to meet the public sector demand arising from these developments are increasingly likely to become more competitive, particularly where they embrace sustainable, low carbon approaches. To accelerate the low carbon transition, sustainable business practices need to become the norm, regardless of size or sector.

Carbon Management

In order to manage and incentivise consistent, sustained and long-term carbon reductions throughout the transport delivery cycle, Transport Scotland has developed a Carbon Management System ( CMS) in consultation and collaboration with its industry supply chain. Through simple data collection and design analysis, the CMS will enable the transparent recording and reporting of carbon emissions and savings. The CMS tool has been piloted and is now in the early stages of implementation. Once fully developed, the CMS can be used to drive down carbon emissions and improve resource efficiency, and therefore cost savings and competitive effectiveness across its suppliers and partners. The use of the CMS will be mandatory within the 4th generation trunk road term maintenance contracts, which will commence in June 2012.

In accordance with the principles contained within the Sustainable Rail Programme consideration will be given to carbon issues during the development of both the High Level Output Specification, and the franchise contract due to come into effect in 2014. These documents will contain Scottish Ministers' expectations on Network Rail's outputs and the franchise contractual requirements of ScotRail services.

Furthermore, the tools have the potential to be adapted and used for other Scottish Government departments.