• CTA Leads Coalition Calling for More Plugged-In Communities

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    • CTA Leads Coalition Calling for More Plugged-In Communities
    • by David Kelly
      Director for Scotland

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    CTA has assembled a diverse coalition of influential organisations to call on the Scottish Government to invest further in Community Transport’s transition to zero-emission fleets.

    The Plugged-In Communities Grant Fund has invested more than £3.92 million over the past three years to enable 43 Community Transport operators across Scotland to replace their ageing, polluting vehicles with 52 new, modern Electric Vehicles (EVs), which are cheaper and greener to run.

    Plugged-In Communities

    18% of Scotland’s Community Transport fleet are now EVs, up from 12% in 2021, partly thanks to Plugged-In Communities.

    Passengers, communities and organisations from Galloway to Orkney have been thrilled to benefit from cleaner, smoother journeys with new electric buses, cars and minibuses. We’ve received so many testimonials from operators, as well as from their drivers, volunteers and users, about how popular the new EVs are, how successful the funding has been and how essential it is that it continues for the long-term.

    Affordability remains a major and growing barrier. Some local charities, community groups and social enterprises are replacing their petrol or diesel vehicles with EVs, but many more will need financial support to do so. 54% say that EVs are unaffordable due to a lack of funding. Vehicle costs have increased by 17% in the last 12 months as inflation bites and supply chain disruption escalates.

    Our Coalition

    Alongside 10 partners and supporters including SCVO, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Transform Scotland, we’ve written to Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, and Jim Fairlie, Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, to thank them for their investment to date, but to also urge them to ‘extend and expand Plugged-In Communities in the years ahead to close the net zero funding gap and ensure more communities can benefit’.

    Together, we represent thousands of organisations and communities, and we all recognise the positive social, economic and environmental impact of this funding, and the need to protect it. We greatly appreciate their support which, in bringing together groups fighting for climate action, community power and gender equality, tells a powerful story.

    Together, dozens of our members, and thousands of people in the communities they serve, have benefited from Plugged-In Communities. It has enabled and decarbonised an array of invaluable projects and services, from minibus hire for women’s groups and patient transport for older people to transport to schools and trips for children and young people.

    Net Zero Funding Gap

    In 2021, CTA’s research revealed a net zero funding gap of £87.4 million in Community
    Transport to achieve a 100% zero-emission fleet across Scotland. This gap has likely closed
    to £84 million thanks to the £3.02 million invested through Plugged-In Communities in
    2022/23 and 2023/24.

    But the need for financial support remains high with each round of the Fund to date heavily
    over-subscribed. In 2022/23 alone, communities submitted applications worth over £7
    million, more than 4 times the total value of the Fund in that year.

    Leaving No One Behind

    Everyone (including older people and disabled people who rely on our sector for accessible transport to stay active and independent) and every community (including remote, rural and island communities without local bus or rail who rely on our sector to access education, employment or healthcare) deserve to benefit from EVs.

    Community Transport has a major role to play in decarbonising our transport system and
    ensuring that no one and no community is left behind in Scotland’s Just Transition to net
    zero. Plugged-In Communities is helping our sector to do just this.

    Further investment in 2024/25 will help maximise the potential of Community Transport to reduce carbon emissions, reduce private car use and accelerate modal shift, which is essential to achieve Scotland’s climate targets.

    Our Letter

    To read our letter to the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister in full, you can download it here.

    If you’ve any thoughts about EVs and funding which you’d like to share, or if your organisation is interested in being potentially part of future CTA-led campaigns like this in the future, please email me at david.kelly@ctauk.org.

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