COP26: Cars to become the ‘outsider’ on local streets – Michael Matheson

Streets are to be redesigned “to make the car the outsider” as part of Scotland’s ambitious target of cutting traffic by 20 per cent by 2030 and reducing emissions, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said today.

However, he admitted transport was among areas where “things are not going as well as they should” in getting emissions down, he told an event at the United Nations COP26 [Conference of the Parties] climate change conference in Glasgow.

Transport produces more than one third of Scotland’s emissions, two-thirds of which are from roads.

The traffic reduction target follows increases since Scottish devolution in 1999.

Michael Matheson said he wanted to remove cars from being the "dominating factor" in communities. Picture: The Scotsman

But Mr Matheson said electric cars were only “part of the answer”.

He said: “We also want to redesign some of our communities and neighbourhoods to make the car the outsider rather than the dominating factor.”

That was to encourage people to walk, wheel and cycle, which meant “fundamentally redesigning communities”.

It would be funded by tripling the “active travel budget” to some £350 million a year by 2024-25.

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Mr Matheson told the event hosted by environmental campaigners WWF Scotland: “We need to make sure that we make our communities easier for people to make the right choices.

"That is active travel – walking, cycling and wheeling – and using public transport, and make it more difficult for the car.

"That involves quite a significant shift.”

Mr Matheson said public transport also had to be expanded.

He admitted: “The challenge we have is that it can be expensive for people to use, and in some communities, services are not of a good standard – they don’t have a frequency of service.”

Mr Matheson, who is also cabinet secretary for net zero and energy, said the Scottish Government reached 51.5 per cent of net zero emissions overall last year, missing its interim target of 55 per cent.

It has a target of 75 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2045.

Mr Matheson said: “Although we are not on track at the moment, we have the policy basis in place to close the gap down.

"The danger is, if we don’t get back on track soon, that gap increases and becomes increasingly difficult to close.”

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