Sustainable Transport (Investment)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 21st January 2021.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

1. To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to redirect investment from unsustainable modes of transport and into modes that are considered more sustainable, including rail infrastructure. (S5O-04929)

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

We are investing more than £1 billion in bus priority and active travel infrastructure. We provide more than £1 billion every year to support public transport provision and, over the course of the pandemic, we have committed £692 million of additional support.

Since 2007, we have invested more than £9 billion in rail infrastructure, and we continue to invest record levels in this control period, including funding to support our commitment to decarbonise the network by 2035. Decisions on future transport investment will be made through the second strategic transport projects review and will prioritise investment in line with the sustainable investment hierarchy.

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

The cabinet secretary might have seen the “Rail For All” report, which the Scottish Greens published recently. Among many other recommendations, the report calls for a streamlining of the Scottish transport appraisal guidance—STAG—process, which is extremely complex, time consuming and costly, and which places a barrier to rail development. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the process needs to be shortened and aligned with the overarching aim of rapidly delivering low-carbon transport infrastructure, and that the change should begin immediately?

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I am aware of the report to which Mr Harvie refers, which makes a number of interesting suggestions that will be taken into account as we make decisions through STPR2. In our national transport strategy, which was published just last year, we set out a clear commitment to review the STAG process. I am conscious that there are some issues relating to the length of time that it takes and the costs that are associated with it. For that reason, we have already committed to carrying out a review over the next couple of years.

Mr Harvie will recognise that it is extremely important that, before we undertake any major transport investment, we have an assurance that it will deliver the intentions behind the scheme. That is why the STAG system is important. However, I recognise the need to reform it, which is why we have committed to doing so.