Thank you for your commitment to the people of Scotland by taking up your role as Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition. I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver real, tangible improvements in the lives of the people of Scotland.
We, as a country, have faced incredible challenges over recent years. We are still recovering from the impact of the COVID pandemic. War continues in Europe, and the impact of Brexit and the cost of living crisis have combined to create some of the most challenging economic conditions in living memory. Alongside this we face the twin crises of climate change and nature loss, which are global threats of existential proportion.
As a Government, we must be unapologetic about supporting those who need help the most. We will collectively deliver on the promises we have made in our Policy Prospectus and use the priorities it sets out to drive our decision-making, our accountability to parliament and our engagement with partners and the people of Scotland. This will mean tough decisions to ensure that every pound we spend and invest is targeted in such a way that it reaches those that need it most and delivers maximum value.
Our aims as a Government
To ensure we maintain a laser focus on delivery for the people of Scotland we have set out three critical and interdependent missions in our policy prospectus Equality, opportunity, community: New Leadership – a fresh start for the period between now and March 2026. These will be underpinned by our refreshed National Performance Framework and our shared policy priorities set out in the Bute House Agreement. These three outcomes are:
- Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm. Continuing to tackle poverty in all its forms to improve the life chances of people across Scotland.
- A fair, green and growing economy Delivering a wellbeing economy through harnessing the skills and ingenuity of our people and seizing the economic and social opportunities from meeting our net zero targets.
- Prioritising our public services. Creating, investing in, and maintaining sustainable public services, to ensure the people of Scotland can access modern, effective, and timely services when they need to.
These missions will define our work as a government. You and I have agreed an ambitious range of net zero and just transition outcomes that you will deliver over the next three years. We also have a collective responsibility across Cabinet to deliver all of the objectives we have set out in our policy prospectus to succeed in our missions.
Throughout all this, you should ensure you are contributing to Scotland's National Outcomes. Our National Outcomes describe our shared priorities, including the need to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and allow all in Scotland to live free from discrimination.
Having agreed this range of longer-term outcomes, I now ask you to consider what this looks like in terms of outcomes and delivery actions over the next year.
Objectives for your portfolio for 2023/24
As Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition, the work of your portfolio is key to meeting these missions through our ambition to deliver a just transition to net zero by 2045, in a way that supports our planet, country, people and economy. I welcomed our recent discussion of the priorities for your portfolio for the remainder of this parliamentary term (listed in Annex A).
Throughout all this, you should ensure you are meeting Scotland’s National Outcome on Human Rights: to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and allow all in Scotland to live free from discrimination. The common principles of Fairness, Dignity, Equality and Respect should underpin all of this work.
For this financial year we have agreed that you will deliver on the following outcomes:
Drive down Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions further
- Publish our new draft Climate Change Plan which will extend Scotland’s emissions reduction planning pathway for our statutory targets out to 2040 and include estimates of the costs and benefits of the policies to achieve this.
Set out our plan for building resilience to the impacts that climate change is having
- Consult on our Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme in early 2024, ahead of finalisation in the Autumn, showing how we will strengthen our climate resilience from flood risk to supply chain resilience, so our society, economy and natural environment can best be protected from increasing climate impacts.
Co-develop a series of Just Transition Plans
- Codesign and publish three draft sectoral Just Transition plans on Built Environment and Construction, Land Use and Agriculture, and Transport by spring 2024.
- Finalise and publish the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (ESJTP), informed by the 17 week consultation on the draft ESJTP, in late 2023 / early 2024.
- Continue to deliver direct support to the North East and Moray by investing £50 million under the Just Transition Fund this year. The Fund has now committed £75 million to projects in the region and through the Scottish National Investment Bank.
- Continue to engage with stakeholders and those who will be most impacted by the transition to net zero, including workers, communities and business, to co-design our Just Transition Plans and inform all work on a just transition. The Just Transition Commission will provide advice and scrutiny throughout this process.
- Consult on net zero conditionality for significant public sector investment, including proposals to support businesses in their transition to net zero.
Continue our leading international advocacy for loss and damage funding and directly support more climate impacted communities throughout the world
- Continue our Climate Justice Fund, using it to support vulnerable communities around the world.
- Work with like-minded governments to build the momentum for additional and urgent funding to address loss and damage.
- Use our influence on the global climate stage, including as co-Chair of the Under 2 Coalition, to push for greater ambition and action to respond to the climate crises, showcasing Scotland’s progress and sharing lessons learnt.
Continue to support the transition of over 1 million homes and circa 50,000 non-domestic buildings to adopt zero direct emissions heating by 2030
- Consult during 2023 on a proposed Heat in Buildings Bill which would enable regulations designed to transition Scotland’s buildings towards Zero Direct Emissions Heating Systems, in line with net zero aspirations.
Make progress towards halting biodiversity loss and reversing declines, protecting 30% of our land and seas for nature by 2030
- Publish Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy and first 5-year Delivery plan which will set out how we intend to deliver a Nature Positive Scotland through a Just Transition.
- Take the next steps towards designating a new National Park by the end of this parliament
Enhance protection for our most precious marine areas, and improve our evidence base on Scotland’s critical blue carbon environments
- Take steps to protect our most precious marine areas by continuing to work at pace to put in place fisheries management measures in MPAs where these are not already in place, as well as for Priority Marine Features outside of these sites. Analyse the HPMA consultation responses, continue intensive engagement with stakeholders and outline next steps in due course.
- Publish the outcomes from our Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge and develop a Blue Carbon Action Plan, setting out the current position and priority evidence needs to enable improved management, protection and enhancement.
Deliver Scotland’s second National Marine Plan (NMP2)
- Work towards consulting on a draft National Marine Plan 2 (NMP2) and associated statutory (and wider) assessments by the second half of 2024 which will deliver against Scotland’s Blue Economy Outcomes and address increasing demand for marine space and resources.
Support the transition to a zero waste and circular economy
- Support the Circular Economy Bill as it progresses through Parliament.
- Publish a final circular economy & waste route map which will set out priority measures to drive progress towards our waste and recycling targets and reduce emissions from Scotland’s waste.
- Continue to invest in modernising local authority recycling infrastructure through the Recycling Improvement Fund.
- Deliver the new National and Litter Fly tipping strategy’s year 1 action plan and continue to work towards delivering a charge on single-use disposable beverage cups.
- Continue to work with the other UK administrations to introduce packaging extended producer responsibility in a phased manner.
- Work towards the delivery of the deposit return scheme in October 2025 at the earliest (assuming that UKG is willing to work on a collaborative basis for a scheme that works for devolved nations).
Maximise our water resources
- Deliver consistent investment in our publicly owned Scottish Water.
- Deliver a programme of maintenance and enhancement to Scotland’s water and waste-water network using increasingly low carbon and energy efficient solutions
- Support more renewable energy generation, including renewable hydrogen, and carbon capture through peatland and forestry schemes.
Deliver the Improving Urban Waters Route Map sets which out a programme of continued action to reduce wastewater pollution and sewage litter over the coming decade backed by investment of up to half a billion pounds
- Continue to deliver Scotland’s River Basin Management Plan aiming to protect and improve our water environment from its current 66% in good or better condition to 81% by 2027
- Continue policy work with the water industry to understand the growing impacts of climate change on water and sewerage services and to assess what measures will be required to ensure that services can adapt to the impacts of a warming climate.
Continue making our public transport system more accessible, available, and affordable, with the costs of transport more fairly shared across government, business and society
- The Fair Fares Review will report by the end of 2023 recommending a package of measures to be taken forward from 2024-25.
- Begin the six month pilot for the removal of ScotRail peak-time rail fares in October.
- Publish the transport infrastructure delivery plan for the second Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, laying out our priorities for investment over the remainder of the parliament and beyond.
- Support the development of measures to give priority to buses in appropriate areas, making bus travel more attractive.
- Lay secondary legislation to enable bus franchising and partnership powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019. This will enable local transport authorities to start exploring what Act powers they can use to change how bus services are delivered in their area.
Deliver six new major vessels on the ferry network, adapt our strategic road and rail networks and improve the resilience of the transport network to climate change impacts
- Monitor and report at key milestones in the progress of the six major vessels currently under construction and conclude consultation on the Long-Term Plan for vessels and ports as part of the development of the Islands Connectivity Plan.
- Commence the phased improvements to the A83 Rest and Be Thankful Old Military Road to improve the resilience of the diversion route when the A83 is closed. In addition, continue to progress design and assessment work on the long term solution to the landslip risks at the Rest and Be Thankful following the announcement of a preferred route option in June 2023.
- Urgently progress the procurement of the Tomatin to Moy section of the A9 Dualling between Perth and Inverness, providing a further 9.6km of dual carriageway.
- Undertake public consultation on the outcomes of the transparent evidence based review of the A96 Dualling Programme
- Progress activities to implement our Approach to Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (ACCAR, addressing the risks associated with changing weather patterns attributed to climate change and provide a strategic overview to our approach to adaptation.
- Connect East Linton to the rail network for the first time in 60 years, by opening a new station at East Linton.
Make progress on our target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030
- Publish our national strategy on 20 mph speed limits.
- Continue to deliver road safety initiatives to reduce road casualties, including providing safe system training to all road safety practitioners, publishing a Safe System Road Safety Manual and undertaking a National Speed Management Review.
- Publish an updated 20% car KM reduction route map following public consultation, along with research report on demand management options.
- Continue to improve air quality by supporting Glasgow City Council in the operation of the LEZ, and further support the cities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh to commence LEZ enforcement by the summer of 2024
Deliver a significant step-up in investment in spaces where people can walk, wheel and cycle safely and confidently
- Initiate the transformation of active travel, working with partners to ensure policy, funding and delivery systems are in place that help expedite and further promote active travel to maximise the value and benefits from the unprecedented budget of at least £320m in 2024-25
- Develop the design of active freeways, in collaboration with delivery partners.
- Promote and support progress on the actions in the new Cycling Framework and Delivery Plan for Active Travel
Deliver a higher proportion of zero emission vehicles on our roads, double the electric charge point network to at least 6,000, continued to grow the zero-emission bus fleet, and electrify the Barrhead to Glasgow rail line
- Deliver electrification of the Glasgow to Barrhead Railway Line– Barrhead line.
- Progress activities to implement the new Vision for Scotland’s Public EV Charging Network.
- Conclude our joint consultation with the other nations of the UK, on the potential introduction of a zero emission vehicles mandate for new cars and vans, and will reach a determination on the application of a mandate in Scotland.
- With the recent launch of ScotZEB 2, continue to work with leaders in the bus and private sector to encourage the development of innovative business models which result in commercially sustainable arrangements being put in place for further fleet decarbonisation.
These priorities will not be the only areas of work to contribute, but are some of the key levers we have to deliver the outcomes set out in our policy prospectus. I expect impact and improvement to be key considerations as you deliver these priorities and I expect you to bring forward suggestions for where we may achieve better outcomes if you think there are additional or alternative options. I would also like you to consider the opportunity for public service reform within your portfolio and the efficiency of the institutions and public bodies you have responsibility for to deliver better outcomes for Scotland.
Responsibility for financial sustainability
As we take action together to carefully manage the Scottish Budget to deliver these priorities, you must work within your portfolio to drive efficiency and reform, and identify measures that can be taken to create additional flexibility within the wider Budget and deliver a balanced outturn against agreed envelopes.
We must prioritise, to ensure that we use our finite resources in the most effective way. That prioritisation work is significant, but it will also be demanding, and will require us to make hard decisions. I know you will be guided by our commitment to support those who need the most help and prioritise resources to the policies and programmes which make the biggest difference to our three core missions.
Collaborative working with partners
It is important to recognise this work cannot be achieved in isolation. It requires collaboration with key partners: Local Government, business (including small businesses), communities and third sector partners, among others. I believe, as I know you do, that the participation of, and collaboration with, these key partners is essential. I ask you to continue to ensure you listen to their ideas, their views, and their lived experience, take into account potential impacts – as well as benefits - on them and put them at the centre of our work.
Our Policy Prospectus set out our commitment to resetting important relationships. As well as resetting the relationship with business, our commitment to resetting the relationship with local authorities and working collaboratively with Local Government is central to the delivery of many of the things we have committed to achieve. I ask you to work with your colleagues to support the Deputy First Minister in building on the constructive progress already made in developing our relationship with Local Government. I would also particularly encourage you to work closely with the business community to ensure that policies and how they are delivered takes account of potential impacts on businesses and considers opportunities for businesses, especially small businesses, to benefit from our policies and spend.
Collaborative working across Cabinet
It is your responsibility to engage, timeously and appropriately, with your Cabinet colleagues and their junior Ministers as we seek to deliver on these objectives and ensure that the voice of business is heard within other policy areas. In addition to those objectives laid out above, you are also expected and required to work on cross-cutting government objectives, which will contribute to our priority outcomes. These include, but are not limited to, the transition to Net Zero; work to meet our child poverty targets; Keeping The Promise; and the incorporation of human rights treaties into Scots law, as far as possible within devolved competence. I know you will also continue to work closely with the Minister for Independence to provide the people of Scotland the information they need to make an informed choice about whether Scotland should become an independent country.
In considering what issues to bring to Cabinet, I want you to prioritise those issues which most clearly support the delivery of our three core missions and therefore most significantly engage the collective responsibility of this Government. This will ensure that Cabinet is focused on long term delivery, on the most critical issues of policy and on what matters most to the people of Scotland.
Cabinet Sub-Committees and Ministerial Working Groups also play a key role in ensuring leadership and accountability of cross cutting issues to support delivery of our three core missions. They are critical for providing a space for oversight on delivery of our commitments thereby helping us to maintain our outcomes focus. I expect all members of the Cabinet Sub-Committees to play a proactive role in them, recognising that there will be a number of challenging decisions to be taken by the Cabinet Sub-Committees in the coming months.
Planning and accountability for delivery
I ask that you ensure that thorough, evidence-based and financially assessed delivery plans are in place for these commitments, to support the ongoing and effective monitoring of progress and impact. This plan should contain baseline performance measures for each commitment and highlight which commitments you are prioritising for early implementation, alongside related timelines, dependencies and assumptions. It will be my expectation that this articulates your agreed programme for the year ahead, with outcomes which represent best value for money for the resources you have at your disposal and that they demonstrate your balanced portfolio budget. This will in turn allow the Deputy First Minister and I to ensure all portfolios deliver within our overall budget the prioritised set of outcomes we are seeking.
I have asked the Deputy First Minister to consider these plans from all portfolios and to join me in six monthly discussions with you on progress against out agreed objectives. The Deputy First Minister will be in touch separately with you around reporting arrangements as part of her role in co-ordinating cross government delivery.
I look forward to working with you to deliver on our shared ambitions for Scotland.
Net Zero and Just Transition Policy Prospectus Priorities
- Drive down Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions further – our new Climate Change Plan will clearly continue the pathway to achieving Scotland’s world leading commitment to be net zero by 2045.
- Set out our plan for building resilience to the impacts that climate change is having and will increasingly have on communities and businesses, in our new Adaptation Programme.
- Co-develop a series of Just Transition Plans in support of, and together with, sectors and communities most affected by the net zero transformation, and deliver direct support though our £500 million Just Transition Fund. We will also consult on net zero conditionality for significant public sector investment, including proposals to support businesses in their transition to net zero and the role of Just Transition Plans.
- Continue to support the transition of over 1 million homes and circa 50,000 non-domestic buildings to adopt zero direct emissions heating by 2030 – working closely with the public and business through consultation and engagement.
- Make progress towards halting biodiversity loss and reversing declines, protecting 30% of our land and seas for nature by 2030, including enhancing protection for our most precious marine areas, improve our evidence base on Scotland’s critical blue carbon environments, and propose the designation of a new National Park.
- Publish and begin to implement the new National Marine Plan to address the global climate and nature crises by delivering sustainable management of our sizeable marine shared space in the interest of the whole of Scotland and in line with our Blue Economy vision. This will enable delivery of our offshore wind aspirations and support sustainable marine businesses to improve social, environmental and economic outcomes in coastal communities.
- Support the transition to a zero waste and circular economy, having taken forward our Circular Economy Bill, subject to the agreement of parliament, increase the recyclability of packaging, including recycling 90% of single use drinks containers through the UK’s first Deposit Return Scheme, and modernise local authority recycling infrastructure supported by our Recycling Improvement Fund.
- Maximise our water resources through consistent investment in our publicly owned Scottish Water, further improve the water environment, adapt how we manage surface water to reduce floods and create water resilient places, provide new green jobs, and support renewable energy production, including renewable hydrogen.
- Advance towards making our public transport system more accessible, available, and affordable, with the costs of transport more fairly shared across government, business and society.
- Make progress on our target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030. This will include having more 20mph zones, improved road safety and Low Emission Zones in our four largest cities.
- Deliver a significant step-up in investment in spaces where people can walk, wheel and cycle safely and confidently, when undertaking short everyday journeys, and ensure there are more spaces that put people first, not cars, with the development of active travel freeways underway.
- Deliver a higher proportion of zero emission vehicles on our roads, double the electric charge point network to at least 6,000, continue to grow the zero-emission bus fleet, and electrify the Barrhead to Glasgow rail line. These actions, alongside others, will not only help tackle climate change but also improve our air quality, contributing to our aim for Scotland to have the best air quality in Europe.
- Deliver six new major vessels on the ferry network, adapt our strategic road and rail networks including opening the East Linton station and the Levenmouth rail link, improve the resilience of the transport network to climate change impacts, with our immediate focus on the medium term solution for the A83 Rest and Be Thankful, whilst progressing the permanent solution, and continue the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
- Continue our leading international advocacy for loss and damage funding and directly support more climate impacted communities throughout the world with our Climate Justice Fund.
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