Firstly, the country has just been voted the most beautiful in the world. Second, a raft of sustainable transport measures have been announced – meaning it promises to be easier than ever to get around Scotland while making low-carbon choices that will help to keep the country beautiful.
The Scottish Government announcement includes doubled funding for walking and cycling from next year, plus plans to support the continued decarbonisation of road transport and tackle air quality.
Matthew Eastwood, Energy Saving Trust Scotland’s Head of Transport (pictured), commented: “It’s very welcome news, if we’re going to be successful in decarbonising transport and travel we need to get many more people walking and cycling.”
The plans build on solid existing sustainable transport work in Scotland. While the scenery provides an incentive to get out on foot or on a bike, there have been some positive steps to work towards cleaner car and van choices, too.
This includes great strides forward in creating a comprehensive network of public recharging points for plug-in vehicles like electric and plug-in hybrids cars, plus grant funding available for both businesses and householders to install their own charging facilities.
There are currently over 700 charge points on the public ChargePlace Scotland network, 185 of these are rapid chargers that can typically recharge an electric car’s battery up to 80% in around 20 minutes – enough time to get a coffee and take in the scenery.
Matthew explained: “Scotland already has lots of positive measures in place to increase EV uptake. It has a very impressive charging network – one of the best in Europe in fact – and there is now a pledge to grow this even further. In Scotland Energy Saving Trust has played an active role in facilitating those parts of the network that are not on public land.”
Another key factor in boosting the profile of plug-in vehicles in Scotland is the enduringly popular interest-free Electric Vehicle Loan, which offers up to £35,000 to cover the cost of buying a pure electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Matthew said: “This scheme alone has been extremely successful – it’s projected to get 280 more low and zero-emissions vehicles on to Scotland’s roads in this financial year, each one showcasing the benefits of such vehicles to the wider public and acting as a catalyst for change. Next year we would like the scheme to also fund pedal-assisted electric bikes for consumers.”
Working with Transport Scotland, an agency of the Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust Scotland has also been awarding European Regional Development Fund money through the Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund, to help local authorities and organisations establish low carbon transport and active travel hubs. This ties in nicely with both the plans to boost walking and cycling and get more EVs on the roads.
Matthew believes that while infrastructure is important, so is the right support.
He added: “Advice and support to individuals and organisations helps to ‘lock in’ the benefits of financial offerings such as loan schemes, by helping both individuals and organisations make more informed travel and transport choices appropriate to their needs, for example.
“We provide tailored transport advice to 40,000 consumers every year via our Home Energy Scotland advice service and provide bespoke transport advice to over 400 organisations, and as interest in low-carbon transport continues to grow, we expect these numbers to remain strong.” Matthew Eastwood, Head of Transport, Energy Saving Trust, Scotland
“We provide tailored transport advice to 40,000 consumers every year via our Home Energy Scotland advice service and provide bespoke transport advice to over 400 organisations, and as interest in low-carbon transport continues to grow, we expect these numbers to remain strong.”