West Dunbartonshire Council is a Local Authority area in the West of Scotland, sitting between Glasgow and the Loch Lomond & Trossachs national park and often considered the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. With a population of just below 89,000 and an area of 68 sq. miles, West Dunbartonshire is a small Council both in terms of population and land coverage. However, despite its size, West Dunbartonshire boasts a diverse range of land uses, natural and built resources, and a mix of dense urban form, rugged moorland and spectacular watercourses.
The Council is responsible for provision of a range of services to its residents and citizens, which includes the collection of waste and recycling, the provision of schools and education, the management of planning and building standards, the provision of libraries, street lighting, and the collection of council taxes.
West Dunbartonshire Council has a statutory duty to enable efficient transport provision under the Roads Scotland Act 1984, the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the Transport (Scotland) Acts of 2001 and 2019 and other related legislation. These Acts give the Council the powers to run transport services themselves and where the services are not run directly, to ensure that services are provided by others meet the needs of the area.
Currently the Council runs some services itself including:
- The management and maintenance of the road, cycleway and footpath network including street lighting, winter maintenance and some electric vehicle charging facilities.
- A fleet of vehicles used predominanlty by Council staff and their partners such as in the health and social care partnership and leisure trust.
- The provision of school crossing patrols to facilitate safe walking to school and related training programmes for schools and pupils.
- Facilities to enable efficient bus network coverage including bus stops and shelters and information about bus services
In addition to general enabling powers to meet the needs of citizens, the legislation makes specific provision for the Council to enable:
- Better bus services including funding for operators to provide services to ensure local social needs are met. The 2001 and 2019 Acts encourage Councils to strengthen partnership arrangements with local bus operators, including on bus emissions reduction which is becoming increasingly important as the Council delivers its Climate Chance Action Plan.
- Establishing a system of charges for use of the road system. Under the current system of charges, roads in West Dunbartonshire are free of charge to all users regardless of the emissions from their vehicles, but there are opportunities in the legislation to charge users of some vehicles more including to encourage reduced emissions.
- Defining the location of low emission zones where access by higher emission vehicles is excluded.
- Setting restrictions on the use of certain streets by designating them as home zones (defined in the 2001 Act as streets designed to improve safety, the environment, and bring benefits to people not using motor vehicles).
- Ticketing arrangements to ensure that the costs of transport are consistent with transport policy and local social needs. These approaches are becoming more important to ensure a tariff for public transport that makes zero emission bus and rail travel a preferred choice for more people more of the time.
In light of the recent Climate Emergency, the Scottish Government set new targets to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by 56% by 2020 (replacing the original 50% target), 75% by 2030, 90% by 2040, and net zero emissions by 2045. These targets present Scotland with significant social and economic opportunities, as well as challenges, and require a range of actions across society and the economy.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019, which detail these targets, recognise that Climate Change goals will only be achieved when everyone contributes. Much of the early change has depended on industry, such as decarbonising the electricity supply chain, but going forward every citizen will need to be involved in making new choices so that sustainable approaches become the norm. After housing and food, transport is the third largest area of spending for many households, so the success of the new approaches depend on everyone making new spending choices.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 places duties on all public bodies to contribute to emission reduction targets delivering programmes to increase resilience against Climate Change, and to act in a ‘Sustainable’ way. Under the act, the Council is identified as a ‘Major Player’ due to its size and influence and therefore must submit a mandatory climate change report to Scottish Government (SG) on an annual basis, detailing the actions planned to reduce our environmental impacts.
Although greenhouse gas emissions have been reducing across Scotland and West Dunbartonshire overall, transport emissions have not reduced. The Government has therefore committed to stronger action on transport emissions. Transport continues to be Scotland’s biggest emitting sector, accounting for 35.6% of emissions in 2018. However transport emissions cannot be separated from public choices and activities that create the need for travel. The demand for transport is derived from the efficient functioning of the economy and society.
The 2020 update to the National Climate Change Plan and National Transport Strategy Delivery Plan recognise these challenges and set out a programme of action on climate change, reducing inequalities,helping to deliver inclusive economic growth, and improve health and wellbeing. The key elements of this new national approach are:
- Reducing the total distance travelled including better local access to goods and services, and investment in an active travel network to help facilitate these local trips.
- Building on technological advances to switch to lower emission vehicles including legislation to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, phasing out the purchase of such vehicles by public authorities by 2025 and for the remainder of the population by 2030. Public bodies should have entirely zero emission cars and van fleets by 2030.
- Zero emission travel by public transport with the majority of new buses zero emission by 2024, new partnerships and bus priority infrastructure to help make bus travel more competitive, extension of free concessionarry travel to include all those under 19 and over 59, and substantial electrification of rail services.
- New shared transport solutions, with new transport services including shared cars, bikes and managed door to door travel.
- New taxes, charges and levies, including equitable options to discourage car use, possibly including including pricing for using roads and charging for workplace parking.
- Local freight consilidation centres and local hubs to reduce the distance travelled by freight vehicles in local communities.
Within the National Transport Strategy, Local Authorites are identified as the level of government charged with leading much of the implementation of this new strategy, tailoring the development and design of these new approaches to local needs. West Dunbartonshire Council faces substantial new challenges to deliver on this vision, but also can embrace the new opportunities associated with this vision of a stronger economy, a more inclusive society and a cleaner environment.
In developing this plan, the principle adopted by the Council is that the organisations that have the greatest capability to reduce emissions, and deliver the best value for citizens, should be enabled to do so. In some cases the Council is well placed to expand its service delivery to ensure best value, whilst in others partnering with other public bodies, private businesses and voluntary sector providers will be more effective.
The Council has a statutory duty to report its own transport emissions, so each element of the Council’s transport emissions are shown separately within the plan. The Council may choose to take on more transport functions and carry a higher share of the total transport emissions in the area. The Council’s statutory remit is to enable better transport in West Dunbartonshire, whether or not the Council is the provider of the transport service. The Plan therefore covers all local transport emissions.