Transport Scotland staff under fire for using ‘dirty’ diesel cars

A decline in demand for diesel cars has triggered a fall in UK car sales for an eighth successive month. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
A decline in demand for diesel cars has triggered a fall in UK car sales for an eighth successive month. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
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National transport agency Transport Scotland has come under fire after it emerged that staff are using `dirty’ diesel cars almost three times as often as electric powered vehicles for work-related travel.

There were 167 journeys were undertaken in diesel cars by the quango’s workers in the past six months, according to official figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats. At the same time, just 59 journeys were undertaken in new electric cars.

Nicola Sturgeon has set out ambitious plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2032 in favour of electric vehicles, in her recent programme for government.

But Liberal Democrat Energy Spokesperson Liam McArthur said: “It would seem the Transport Minister’s officials had the TV switched off when he committed the government to phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.

“While Scottish Liberal Democrats have welcomed this ambition, we have been clear that Ministers must also set out the policies that will build the market and enhance the electric vehicle network.

“I have previously invited the government to rethink the Draft Climate Change Plan to ensure that we see far greater uptake of electric and low-emission vehicles. However, it would seem the Transport Minister has his own problems getting officials on-board with the government’s agenda.”

The figures obtained by Mr McArthur in a Parliamentary Answer reveals that Transport Scotland has five cars as part of its car fleet. These include two electric cars - a Renault Fluence and Nissan Leaf - which made 59 journeys between them since April. There are three diesel cars - a Mitsubishi Outlander, Skoda Superb and Skoda Fabia - which made 167 journeys over the same period.

Dr Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “They ought to be doing a bit better than that if it’s their pool cars. The public sector obviously needs to show the way in these things.”

He said Glasgow City Council has had a “large fleet” of electric vehicles for some time, with charging points around the city to power them.

“Other bits of government and particularly those directly concerned like Transport Scotland ought to be setting us a very good example and I hope that when we look at these same figures again next year, we would see a very rapid changeover so that the electric vehicle is the vehicle of choice.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said it will be looking to increase the number of electric or hybrid cars in its fleet as the current diesel cars reach the end service. We believe that by giving our staff the opportunity to use electric and low-emission vehicles, it allows them to become advocates of the various benefits they can bring,” he said.

“Our ‘Switched On Fleets’ initiative is aimed at decreasing the number of fossil-fuelled vehicles within Scotland’s public sector fleet. We will lead from the front to achieve this ambition, and continue to promote active and low carbon transport.”