Scotland's Transport Future: Guidance on Local Transport Strategies

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SCOTLAND'S TRANSPORT FUTURE: GUIDANCE ON LOCAL TRANSPORT STRATEGIES

PART 1 CONTEXT AND PROCESS

THE NATIONAL CONTEXT

1.1 It is important to set the role of local transport strategies in the context of developments at a national and regional level. The Scottish Executive's white paper on transport, Scotland's Transport Future, set out the Executive's transport policy and signalled significant reforms in the way that transport is delivered in Scotland.

1.2 Local authorities, on their own and jointly as part of regional transport partnerships, have a central role in delivering the improvements necessary to achieve our vision of a safe, accessible, integrated and reliable transport system that meets Scotland's needs.

National transport agency

1.3 By the end of 2005, an executive agency for transport in Scotland will be established. This body will be part of the Scottish Executive, directly accountable to the Scottish Ministers, and taking on certain functions currently exercised by the Scottish Executive's Transport Group. The new transport agency will be based in Glasgow and will be responsible for the safe and efficient running of the trunk road and rail networks, and delivery of national transport services which support integration. It will be imperative for the agency to work closely with local authorities, regional transport partnerships and other stakeholders.

1.4 Setting up the agency does not require primary legislation and it is not intended that the agency should take on any functions currently exercised by local government, with the exception of certain rail powers currently held by Strathclyde Passenger Transport. As detailed in the white paper, the intention is to transfer these powers to the Scottish Ministers in order to enable the Scottish passenger rail franchise to run as a single franchise.

1.5 In addition, the new Scotland-wide free bus scheme for older and disabled people, announced on 22 December 2004, will replace the current local free bus schemes, which are the responsibility of local authorities. The national scheme, to be introduced from April 2006, will subsume current entitlements to local travel on buses by older and disabled people. It will be run by the national transport agency using discretionary powers proposed in the Transport (Scotland) Bill 3 to enable the Scottish Ministers to run concessionary travel schemes at their own hand. The new discretionary powers of the Scottish Ministers will stand alongside local authorities' current power to run concessionary travel schemes.

National Transport Strategy

1.6 In the course of 2005 and early 2006, the Scottish Executive and the new national transport agency will develop a new National Transport Strategy for Scotland (NTS).

1.7 Scotland's Transport Future clearly sets out the Executive's aims and objectives for transport and its current projects and priorities. The NTS will develop these further and consider Scotland's transport needs, and the needs of travellers, over the medium to long term. It will also set a framework for the Strategic Projects Review which will begin by 2007 and will determine our infrastructure investment after the period of our current investment plans.

1.8 There will need to be close working during the preparation, implementation, monitoring and review of transport strategies at the national, regional and local level. While the NTS will set the context for the activities of regional transport partnerships and local authorities, its development will also be a bottom-up process and local transport strategies will have a role in feeding into the national strategy process. Developing the NTS will involve close co-operation with local authorities, SPT, regional transport partnerships and other stakeholders as well as wide stakeholder engagement and public consultation. In particular there may be benefit in making links, where appropriate, between any parallel consultative processes that may be being undertaken for the NTS, regional transport strategies and local transport strategies in the course of 2005. Some local consultative processes may raise issues of national interest and the national consultative process may raise issues which are of specific local importance.

Regional transport partnerships

1.9 The white paper also proposes significant reform at a regional level through the establishment of statutory regional transport partnerships. These bodies will build on the experience of the existing four voluntary transport partnerships and SPT. Regional transport partnerships will be strategic bodies made up of local authorities and representatives of wider interests such as the business sector. It is likely that regional transport partnerships will exercise different functions in different parts of Scotland, but local authorities will remain central to the delivery of transport.

1.10 The Transport (Scotland) Bill introduced in October 2004 contains provisions to enable the establishment of regional transport partnerships. We consulted 4 in late 2004 on the boundaries, constitution, functions and funding arrangements for these new partnerships. This consultation will inform the drafting of secondary legislation (Orders), which will specify the areas that regional transport partnerships will cover and the functions they will exercise.

1.11 The timetable for establishing regional transport partnerships is largely dependent on the passage of the Transport Bill through the Scottish Parliament, however we would expect regional transport partnerships to be up and running by April 2006.

Regional transport strategies

1.12 The common function of all regional transport partnerships will be the production of a regional transport strategy for their area. This will be a strategic document that will guide the activities of the partnership and its constituent local authorities.

1.13 Unlike local transport strategies, we intend a regional transport strategy to be a statutory requirement and that it will need to be approved by the Scottish Ministers. The regional strategy will be binding on its constituent authorities, and this will mean that local strategies will need to be consistent with the objectives of the regional strategy.

1.14 Regional transport partnerships will not be starting from a blank page when they come to develop their strategies. The voluntary partnerships have each produced a strategy, SPT has a public transport strategy and all local authorities will have, or be developing, local transport strategies. These documents can all feed into the development of the regional strategy, meaning that it becomes a bottom-up, as well as top-down, process. We will issue separate guidance on regional transport strategies and anticipate initial work on draft regional strategies to commence during 2005.

Local transport strategies

1.15 While the institutional landscape for transport is changing, there will also be continuity. Local authorities and SPT will continue to maintain transport infrastructure, plan and deliver services, so there is still an important role for local transport strategies.

1.16 As indicated above, we expect the latest round of local transport strategies to feed into the development process for regional transport strategies and therefore see merit in their preparation at this time, despite the changes on the horizon. As detailed later in the guidance, we do expect local transport strategies to take account of the strategies produced by the voluntary transport partnerships, and in the SPT Area, an updated SPT public transport strategy. We expect the strategies to be produced in consultation with stakeholders and the public - and would expect the voluntary transport partnerships also to be involved in this process.

1.17 We are aware that local authorities are at different stages in the production cycle of local transport strategies and expect most strategies to be completed during the course of 2005-06, although we have deliberately not set a deadline for completion - instead enabling local authorities to work to their own timescales.

THE STRATEGY PROCESS

1.18 The process of developing a strategy will no doubt be slightly different in each local authority to reflect local circumstances, however there are five broad elements to the strategy process:

Analysis

1.19 The strategy should demonstrate appropriate analysis of the current situation, identify trends and planned developments that may impact on transport requirements in the area. Other plans and strategies, including those of neighbouring local authorities and community planning partners, should also be taken into account as part of this process.

Objective setting

1.20 Having analysed the current situation, looked to the future and identified transport opportunities and problems, the authority should determine what it wants its transport strategy to achieve through a set of well-defined objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART). These may be presented as broad themes with more precise objectives contained therein. This is entirely consistent with the philosophy of the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) which is recommended as part of the tool kit required for the development of local transport strategies.

Choosing options

1.21 Chapter 4 of the STAG identifies option generation and sifting as a crucial element of any STAG process and this equally applies to the development of a transport strategy. For each established objective, there may be a number of different ways in which it could be achieved. A strategy needs to identify the best means to meet that end.

Implementation

1.22 Once it has been decided what needs to be done, the strategy should set out an action plan for achieving this. While strategies should be dynamic and capable of being adapted to changing circumstances, it is useful for a strategy document to provide an outline plan of what needs to be done, by whom and when, and to include indicative costs. We anticipate that local authorities would review, and update as necessary, their action plans on an annual basis.

Monitoring and evaluation

1.23 Having an action plan, as described, assists in the monitoring and evaluation of the strategy. This enables local authorities and others to judge whether they are achieving their objectives and whether the strategy needs to be adjusted to reflect changing circumstances or the experience of implementation. This is discussed in greater detail later in this section.

Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG)

1.24 The STAG philosophy applies equally to the development of a transport strategy as it does to the examination of a particular transport problem. While this guidance provides advice on applying STAG principles to the local transport strategy process, it should be read in conjunction with the STAG manual 5.

1.25 In the context of preparing a local transport strategy the purpose of STAG is to enable an informed choice to be made between a number of alternative strategies based on appraisal against the five criteria of: environment, safety, economy, integration and accessibility. At the centre of a local transport strategy should be a costed, realistic and balanced implementation programme of specific projects and policy measures designed to overcome current and forecast problems and achieve the established objectives. This should be developed by following the planning and appraisal process set out in STAG.

1.26 For a local transport strategy no one measure on its own is likely to provide a solution to the transport challenges within a local authority area. It is anticipated that the most effective strategies will consist of a balanced package of measures . Guidance on developing and assessing packages is also provided in STAG (Chapter 4, Section 3). We would expect the local transport strategy to include commentary on the alternative strategies considered and why they were not chosen.

1.27 The two-part appraisal process in STAG would not serve the same purpose for developing an LTS as for working up a proposal for, say, a major road project, where the
Part 1 appraisal serves to ensure that the proposal is worthy of more detailed consideration. The LTS should encompass both parts of appraisal, at a level appropriate to the resources available for preparation of the strategy. Appraisal Summary Tables (ASTs) should be completed for the strategy or package of measures as a whole rather than its individual components. Local authorities may wish to present the results of the appraisal in narrative form in the main body of the LTS and include the ASTs within appendices to the main document. It should be noted that project-specific STAG appraisals will be required for elements of a strategy when a funding application is made to the Executive or approval sought for a particular project.

Local transport strategies and project appraisal using STAG

1.28 The STAG appraisal of individual projects is not a substitute for applying STAG at a strategic level. The added value of applying STAG to the package of policies and projects that form a strategy is to ensure that the projects and policies collectively provide the optimum solutions given resource and other constraints. For example, a strategic view of
£10 million spent over a local authority area will often lead to a better and different set of individual projects and policies than ten lots of £1 million spent in isolation to solve ten particular problems.

1.29 The agreed local transport strategy will be particularly relevant to the STAG appraisal of an individual project in three ways:

  • the vision and objectives set out in the local transport strategy will be relevant to the process of setting objectives for a particular proposal;
  • the local transport strategy is a relevant consideration under STAG's "integration" criterion, when considering whether the project is consistent with existing policies; and
  • where the project does not follow from the objectives in the local transport strategy (for example, because it is in response to a new problem that was not foreseen), consideration should be given to revision of the local transport strategy.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

1.30 Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations came into force in Scotland in July 2004 ( The Environmental Assessment (Plans and Programmes) (Scotland) Regulations 20046). An SEA Bill is included in the current legislative programme. SEA is focused on strategic level plans likely to have significant environmental effects. Responsible Authorities must consider if their plan or programme is subject to SEA. Responsible Authorities should ensure that the provisions of the SEA Regulations are all met when carrying out environmental assessment of their qualifying plans and programmes.

1.31 SEA is likely to apply to all transport strategies. The Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) will be updated to take account of SEA and provide more detailed guidance on its application to transport.

Consultation

1.32 Everyone has an interest in transport and consultation is a vital element of the local transport strategy process. Local authorities will need to actively involve a wide range of people in the development and implementation of their strategy, including: local people and communities, children and young people, businesses and business groups, transport operators, health and education providers, the enterprise networks, relevant representative bodies and user groups and the emergency services. During the development and future review of regional transport strategies and the NTS, there will be scope for close liaison with local authorities over consultation, as issues at national, regional and local level are discussed.

1.33 Local transport strategies need to fit within a local authority's community plan and it may be appropriate to use community planning mechanisms (such as citizens' panels or forums) as a vehicle for consultation. Local authorities may also wish to make use of consultative mechanisms established by a voluntary regional transport partnership. Public involvement in a genuinely inclusive approach to the development of strategies will be vital if authorities are going to achieve the widespread support necessary to implement any difficult and potentially contentious measures. Moreover, local people will have knowledge and insight about existing problems that may be helpful in formulating strategies. The guidance produced by the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS), Transport Strategies: Planning for Inclusion7 provides useful advice on inclusive consultation methods, that are relevant to both disabled and non-disabled people.

Partnership working

1.34 Transport networks and services by their nature cross local authority boundaries. Local authorities are already working together through voluntary regional transport partnerships, SPT, FETA and other arrangements. The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 and Building Better Cities8 further encouraged this approach, through the need for Community Planning Partnerships to work across boundaries in developing their plans and, for city authorities, their City Visions.

1.35 For the purposes of developing local transport strategies, local authorities will need to work with their neighbouring local authorities and existing partnership bodies may assist in this process. In the SPT Area, local authorities should involve SPT in the development of their local transport strategies. Similarly it is important that SPT works with both its constituent and neighbouring authorities in the development of its public transport strategy.

1.36 All four voluntary regional transport partnerships have developed a joint or regional transport strategy. These strategies build on the constituent local transport strategies and provide a broader picture of the transport situation in that region, with proposals for transport improvements. The regional transport strategies have all taken a different shape and while the Scottish Executive has supported their development, we have not issued any formal guidance on their production.

1.37 Developing a regional transport strategy will be a core responsibility of the new regional transport partnerships, and the Executive will issue guidance on their form and content. In the meantime we expect local authorities to ensure that their local transport strategies take account of and reflect the objectives in the transport strategies developed by the voluntary regional transport partnerships. In the west of Scotland local authorities will also need to take account of SPT's Strathclyde Public Transport Strategy in developing their local transport strategies.

Links with development plans

1.38 Whether an authority is solely responsible for its own structure plan, or is in a collaborative arrangement with a number of neighbouring authorities, structure plans and regional and local transport strategies should complement and reinforce one another. Settlement strategy should be consistent with the aim of reducing travel demand and put greater reliance on means of transport other than the private car. Regional and local transport strategies should support land use planning by providing for appropriate transport infrastructure and services.

1.39 At the local level, local plans and local transport strategies should be co-ordinated and support one another's objectives. Local plans will have a life of at least 10 years with review around 5 years, so local transport strategies may look to the early years of a local plan in terms of providing infrastructure or services to serve development. Subsequent local transport strategies will deal with the later phases of development in the local plan. Local transport strategies should also contain the authority's parking standards, comprising a set of maximum car parking standards, a set of minimum cycle parking standards and a set of minimum parking standards for disabled people. In so far as the local transport strategy sets out funding requirements for its transport programme, it should indicate, in consultation with planning colleagues, the extent to which developers will be expected to contribute to transport investment.

1.40 Scottish Planning Policy 17 (a replacement for NPPG17) will be published in early 2005, following consultation on a draft version in 2004.

Links with Community Planning

1.41 Under the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003, local authorities are required with their community planning partners to develop an overarching strategy for their area usually in the form of a community plan - other strategies should then fit into this overarching strategy - for example, community plans often have an economic development theme and this is then given a further focus by the Local Economic Forum strategy. Transport planning requires all partners to be involved if it is to meet the needs of local communities. Therefore, the Executive wishes to see Community Planning Partnerships involved in the process of developing local transport strategies. This will ensure that local transport strategies are consistent with community plans.

Monitoring and evaluation

1.42 Strategies should include a set of performance indicators, targets and planned outcomes which can be used to assess whether the strategy is delivering the stated objectives. It will be up to local authorities to determine the precise package of performance indicators and targets which best reflect their particular local circumstances and the established objectives. Targets should be unambiguous and quantified and performance indicators should be meaningful. Where quantitative measures are not available qualitative measures should be used. There will be some areas where numerical targets are essential.

1.43 Where national transport-related targets 9 have been established, strategies should include associated targets indicating their local contribution to the achievement of these. Authorities should consider targets taking into account local air quality management concerns, and strategies will also need to consider the contribution they might make towards the Government's objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Any obligations which flow from the EU Environmental Noise Directive will also need to be covered. There are targets for road casualty reduction, increased cycle use and year on year increases in the number of passenger journeys on local bus services. In addition, strategies will need to consider the provisions within the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 relating to targets for reducing road traffic volumes.

1.44 Local authorities will need to establish arrangements for monitoring performance indicators. These arrangements need to be considered as an integral part of strategy development, linking objectives, measures and outcomes. They should:

  • make the links between objectives, measures and outcomes clear;
  • help identify the risk of measures conflicting in terms of objectives;
  • help identify the specific contributions of particular programmes and major schemes towards targets;
  • help monitor the overall impact of the implemented strategy;
  • be simple to operate and measure; and
  • not create an additional drain on scarce resources.

1.45 Existing national indicators draw on a range of sources, such as the National Travel Survey, Traffic Census, Road Goods Survey etc. However, the National Travel Survey has too small a sample size for monitoring strategies but meaningful results at individual council level are available from the Scottish Household Survey. Local authorities may wish to consider the options for relatively inexpensive monitoring directly relevant to individual policies and projects. Annex A provides further guidance on Traffic Data Collection and Transport Modelling.