West Dunbartonshire Council’s transport strategy “Designing the Future” was published in 2013 with six key objectives consistent with national policy goals:
- Economy: to support a vibrant and sustainable local economy that stimulates business development and economic growth;
- Environment: to support West Dunbartonshire as an attractive and sustainable place to live, work and visit;
- Integration: to enhance integration and efficiency of transport networks, infrastructure and services;
- Accessibility & Social: to facilitate access to services and opportunities, promote physical and mental well-being, prevent ill health and reduce inequality;
- Safety: to support communities in which people feel safe to live, work and enjoy their leisure time;
- Maintenance: to maintain the transport network to a high standard that ensures it is safe and fit for purpose.
These aims continue to be relevant nationally and locally, and in 2020 the Scottish Government published a new national transport strategy with four new strategic aims: to reduce inequalities, take climate action, deliver inclusive economic growth and improve health and wellbeing. The new national delivery plans have subsequently been published, including commitments by national government to work collaboratively with local authorities.
This new strategy and plan for West Dunbartonshire is the first stage in refreshing and aligning the local approaches in West Dunbartonshire to be more consistent with the new national framework consistent with national climate action, and a sustainable, inclusive approach to transport and economic development.
The demand for travel is derived from many social and economic needs. Successful transport change must help to implement the broader priorities within the Council and wider society, as set out in the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. The new National Transport Strategy Delivery Plan published in February 2021 recognises the need for systemic change and introduces new performance metrics to align transport with Climate Change Goals, particularly relating to system change.
Transport choices are made by everyone and a highly collaborative approach is needed to the development of the plans and assessment options, consistent with national principles and detailed transport appraisal and investment guidance. In line with these approaches, local groups and stakeholders in West Dunbartonshire were consulted during 2021 on the scope of the changes they would like to see in West Dunbartonshire. This strategy and plan seeks to reflect the feedback received, and is published in draft to support the collaborative work between the Council, local people and partners to develop the detail of the projects and plans.
Recognising this more participative approach, the preparation of this plan has been supported with national funding for Smarter Choices Smarter Places where all elements of the plan are designed to be Smart (Specific to people and/or places, Measurable with clear accountability, Achievable with clear outcomes, Realistic with available capabilities, and Timely to ensure change is achieved when required).
The scope of this strategy and action plan covers mitigation, adaptation and sustainability actions as defined by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The legislation requires that the plan must address the full range of the Council’s statutory responsibilities to:
- Plan, develop and ensure the safe operation of comprehensive and connected transport networks by road, public transport, and active travel consistent with the needs of the area.
- Manage emissions from all transport services delivered directly by the Council towards the achievement of the emissions reduction targets set out in the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action plan.
- For all communities, businesses and the environment across West Dunbartonshire enable measures to ensure that transport impacts are managed effectively, in particular using the Council’s powers introduced in the 2001 and 2019 Transport Acts to ensure mitigation of emissions and measures to adapt towards sustainable approaches.
The new strategy and plan for West Dunbartonshire builds on progress already being made such as the Greater Glasgow bus partnership programme to partner with bus operators to develop zero-emission services to better reflect local social needs. Other projects and programmes go beyond the established strategies of the Council, such as partnerships with electric vehicle charge point operators which are now a major focus of national transport programmes. This new strategy and plan defines the needs and requirements for these new programmes, recognising that detailed approaches continue to be developed in discussion with partners.
The proposed actions are being developed jointly with delivery partners, including all service areas of the Council, and many external partners. The Council’s cross-service Climate Change Action Group will monitor the implementation of the plans and lead the development of future plans, including accounting for all transport emissions as required by the legislation.
All actions seek to be consistent with the local socio-economic context for West Dunbartonshire, including the capacity to achieve change at a local level in each community. Involving local residents in the collective journey to net zero is a key requirement of local transport authorities, including when seeking national funding. This plan seeks to include the priority actions needed to empower all those with a capability to support action in pursuit of Climate Change goals.
Opportunities and Challenges
The preparation of this Strategy and Action Plan has been informed by a review of opportunities and challenges that both influence and limit the ability to deliver local climate action (Mitigation and Adaptation). Not everyone yet recognises the opportunities, and many challenges have already been identified. The new approaches must be broadly based informing, enabling and acting to build understanding, and invest in the skills and capabilities needed to overcome each challenge.
Key opportunities now available in transport include (but are not limited to):
- Technology – For most modes of transport, the emission reduction techniques developed over the last 30 years are now mature and rapidly scalable.
- Economics – Transition to zero-emission technologies across the dominant transport modes is now associated with cost savings and productivity benefits.
- Fairness – Zero- emission transport can help to shift the balance of benefits from transport investment from those that demand the most, to those that contribute the most to society.
However the challenges identified are substantial and include (but are not limited to):
- Culture, attitudes and habitual behaviour – Sustainable transport is often misunderstood requiring a major effort to align social attitudes with the direction of policy.
- Communication – Sustainable transport change is affected by widespread misreprentation for many reasons (commercial advantage, fear of change, financial interests), weak trust in the main delivery agents (including perception of the Council’s core interests in transport as being about infrastructure rather than a champion of the interests of citizens and businesses), and mixed messages so people do not know who to trust (lobby interests by cycle/road/rail/etc.).
- Skills – the need to upskill and train existing staff or source new staff and/or suppliers.
- Resources – Although investment in transport is one of the greatest growth opportunities offering many funding opportunities, the distribution of resources is not yet optimised to the challenges associated with sustainable transport implementation. This is particularly true for Council staff facing resource constraints, further impacted by Covid19, and unable to access resources associated with new opportunities.
- Economics – Some technologies are not yet mature, particularly propulsion systems for heavier road vehicles, and some zero-emission systems cost more to implement than current systems.
- Lead time – Some statutory processes such as land use planning have long lead times where performamce benefits will not be realised for many years.
- Conflict and confusion – With rapid change underway it is not possible to ensure that all strategy and planning is fully aligned at all times leaving potential for confusion or exploitation of gaps in integration between Council services.
- Legislation & Regulatory – Some national legislation is confusing with apparent conflicts that can delay action due to legal challenges, particularly by organisations with substantial vested interests in blocking change.
This Action Plan seeks to integrate with all relevant existing and emerging national, regional and local plans and strategies, both in terms of aligning with and informing the preparation of other plans.
At a local level, other plans prepared by the Council will also influence the delivery of individual actions identified in this Action Plan, including in terms of their resourcing, phasing and monitoring.
The preparation of this strategy and plan has been informed by many existing and emerging plans including those in the table.