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Campaigners call for details over plans to reduce car use by 20%

Environmental campaigners have called for details over plans to reduce car journeys by 20% (Nick Ansell/PA)
Environmental campaigners have called for details over plans to reduce car journeys by 20% (Nick Ansell/PA)

Environmental campaigners have called on the Scottish Government to detail how they will reduce car travel by 20% as they mark Car Free Day.

The annual event highlights how communities could be improved with fewer vehicles on the road with events across Scotland to raise awareness of the alternatives to car use.

But Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland say they are yet to see any details from the Scottish Government on how they will achieve their target of reducing car travel by 20%.

They have previously pledged to reduce the number of car journeys by 2030 and a plan will be released later this year.

Gavin Thomson from the organisation said: “Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, it’s creating dangerous levels of air pollution and it’s costing people far too much money. It needs to change.

“The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car travel by 20%, but we’ve yet to see any detail on how they will deliver this. It’s clear that our cities should be limiting cars, opening up space for communities. A regular car free day in cities would be a great idea.”

The group say all councils in Scotland should be working to reduce the numbers of cars on the road, as people across the country mark Car Free day, arguing fewer cars can create stronger economies and communities by boosting small businesses and local high streets, and improving public health.

FoE Scotland claim air pollution primarily from traffic is responsible for 2,500 premature deaths in Scotland every year.

Research by the Clean Cities Campaign suggests 62% of people asked support the idea of one car free day per week to open the streets to walking, cycling and improved quality.

If implemented, the equivalent of 541,000-945,000 barrels of oil per year could be saved.

A Scottish Government spokesman said:

“World Car Free Day is a chance to imagine how our towns and cities would be healthier, safer and happier spaces to live, work in and visit, with fewer cars on the road.

“Car use reduction is necessary, alongside a switch to cleaner vehicles, to enable us to decarbonise the transport system at a pace that is sufficient to meet our statutory emissions targets.

“We’ve outlined our world leading commitment to reduce car kilometres travelled by 20% by 2030 and have published a route map on how the government intends to achieve this.

“As outlined in the route map, the scale of the challenge means that we need to take forward a broad combination of interventions, including infrastructure, incentives and regulatory actions. Examples of this include the landmark policy of providing free bus travel for U22s, coupled with record funding for active travel.”