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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 12:08 GMT
New 'sustainable transport' drive
Residents in the areas taking part may be offered cut-price bikes
A scheme to showcase communities which use environmentally friendly forms of transport is being introduced in Scotland, following a pilot in England.

Residents could be urged to join car-sharing schemes, be offered a discount on bikes or free bus and train tickets as part of the initiative.

The transport minister said areas which took part would act as role models for other Scottish towns and cities.

The three-year scheme will be given 15m from the Scottish Government.

The government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), who are working together on the initiative, hope it will reduce congestion and pollution and create a cleaner environment.

It is being introduced in Scotland following success in three towns in England - Darlington, Peterborough and Worcester.

'Lifestyle shifts'

The Scottish Government will fund all of year one, with matched funding from local authorities coming in during year two and three of the project.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson called on local authorities keen to take part in the scheme, on a matched funding basis, to express their interest.

"We need to look at new ways of persuading people out of the car and on to more sustainable forms of travel such as trains, buses, walking and cycling," he said.

"Sustainable travel communities give us a fantastic opportunity to do just that, and could drastically change our travel habits.

"This approach has delivered impressive results in other countries, transforming the travel behaviour of thousands of residents."

Just imagine what could be achieved if the 400m allocated to the M74 motorway was spent on initiatives like this.
Stuart Hay
Friends of the Earth Scotland

Councillor Alison Hay, from Cosla, said: "We all want to live in more sustainable, healthier communities but getting from where we are now to there is going to involve some fundamental lifestyle shifts.

"This project provides a forum for looking at how we can make these shifts in a big way."

However environmental groups said the scheme didn't go far enough.

Stuart Hay, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "We welcome this scheme and appreciate the good intentions behind it.

"Hopefully it will go some way to encouraging people to use more healthy, sustainable forms of transport.

"However, just imagine what could be achieved if the 400m allocated to the M74 motorway was spent on initiatives like this. Unfortunately 15m is just a drop in this particular ocean."

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