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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Calls made to extend vital community transport fund


It is seen as being important in a Just Transition to net zero

Community transport leaders, volunteers and advocates for sustainable transport are urging the Scottish Government to extend a vital grant fund.

In a unified call to action, they are demanding the retention of the Plugged-In Communities scheme.

It has been used to fund community transport initiatives and is seen as being important in a Just Transition to net zero.

The Community Transport Association (CTA) in collaboration with 10 other organisations including SCVO, Stop Climate Chaos and Transform Scotland, has written to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Fiona Hyslop MSP and Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, Jim Fairlie MSP and urged them both to prioritise the fund extension.

The Plugged-In Communities initiative has been pivotal in fostering sustainable transportation solutions while addressing climate change, poverty and inequality.

Recognizing the vital role of community transport in ensuring equitable access to transportation, regardless of location or economic status, hundreds of community transport staff and volunteers across Scotland work all year round to emphasise the urgency of sustaining and enhancing this essential fund.

David Kelly, director for Scotland at the CTA, said: "The financial support provided through the Plugged-In Communities Grant Fund has been instrumental in enabling community transport operators to embrace cleaner, more sustainable vehicles.

"However, there is still a pressing need for continued investment to make EVs accessible to all."

The initiative has already made significant strides in decarbonising Scotland's transport system, with 18% of the community transport fleet now comprising electric vehicles (EVs), up from 12% in 2021. Despite commendable progress, affordability remains a significant obstacle, hindering the transition to zero-emission fleets for many operators.

Mike Callaghan of LEAP Car Club in Renfrewshire said: “The funding has made a huge difference to LEAP Car Club. We've been able to replace two seven-year-old, hybrid cars with brand new Nissan Leafs, making our five-car fleet 100% electric. The new cars have been extremely popular. It has made a massive difference to both our environmental and financial sustainability.”

Over the past three years, the initiative has allocated over £3.92 million, facilitating the replacement of ageing, polluting vehicles with modern EVs for 43 community transport operators. This funding has not only reduced carbon emissions but also enhanced the financial sustainability of participating organizations.

Dolina Gorman, of Handicabs Lothian, said:"This funding is incredibly important in supporting us to form an environmentally sustainable fleet for our passengers. We are delighted to be able to offer more shared, zero-emission journeys throughout the Lothians.”

While progress has been made, there remains a significant funding gap of £84m to achieve a 100% zero-emission community transport fleet across Scotland. The overwhelming demand for support underscores the necessity of extending and expanding the Plugged-In Communities Grant Fund to ensure no community is left behind in Scotland's journey towards a greener future.

The joint campaign reflects a collective commitment to advancing Scotland's Just Transition to net zero, ensuring that every community has the support and resources needed to embrace sustainable transportation solutions.

Alan Tait, of Caithness Voluntary Group, said:“We are delighted to have been successful with our application to Plugged-In Communities. Caithness is at the forefront of the renewable revolution, and we are playing our part in reaching net zero. Access to this funding is vital.”

The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.



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