Scotland Policy Conferences

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email

The new National Transport Strategy (NTS2) - assessing the strategy and addressing the challenges for implementation

Morning, Thursday, 26th November 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is bringing together key stakeholders and policymakers to assess the final National Transport Strategy (NTS2).

Delegates will examine key issues for implementation and next steps for delivery - including the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on planning and execution .

The agenda:

  • The NTS2 and next steps for meeting key objectives - transport modernisation, design of projects, and achieving inclusivity and growth
  • Applying the Strategy locally - engagement with passengers and the needs of rural communities, regional connectivity, and delivering safe services during the COVID-19 crisis
  • Placing at the environment at the centre of transport planning - emissions, air quality, and preserving landscapes
  • Priorities for tackling the delivery challenges for new transport infrastructure in Scotland
    • Assessing where local need is greatest for rail and road modernisation in Scotland, and how existing assets can be utilised more effectively
    • Planning for future transport needs, tackling congestion, and ensuring transport networks are fit for purpose in cities and other built environments
    • Preparing Scotland for electric vehicles capacity - rolling out charging capabilities, connection to the grid, and ensuring rural regions are not left behind
    • Incorporating best practice in the delivery of transport projects, and working with the policy and regulatory framework
  • Expanding healthy forms of transport and improving health and wellbeing throughout Scotland
  • Policy priorities for decarbonising transport, improving connectivity, and delivering the wider policy programme for inclusivity and economic growth in Scotland

Why this is relevant now - the context:

  • Recent publication of Scotland’s NTS2, which outlines a vision for the development of the national transport system over the next 20 years - including around:
    • improving rural, suburban and city connectivity
    • addressing health and wellbeing challenges
    • decarbonising the network
    • ensuring transport enhancements support economic growth
  • Scotland’s City Region and Growth Deals and their objectives around delivering tailored investments for specific priorities, such as developing city-wide infrastructure and local economies
  • The Scottish Budget 2020-2021 including over £1bn for developing low-carbon infrastructure, active travel facilities, and improved services for rail, road and buses
  • Key Infrastructure Commission for Scotland recommendations for the development of Scotland’s critical infrastructure - including ensuring that the transport system:
    • properly alleviates congestion and capacity issues
    • meets the needs of decarbonisation and enables the transition to net zero
    • is led by a cross-coordinated approach to working with local governments and delivery partners
  • Further relevant reports and interventions:
    • the Just Transition Commission Interim Report - outlining ways in which social and climate goals can be achieved through transition plans, and ensuring rural areas are not left behind
    • the Environment Strategy for Scotland, which sets a long-term vision for protecting and restoring the environment, while also coordinating efforts with adjacent strategies like the NTS2

Key areas for discussion:

Delivering on key priorities of the NTS2, managing transport developments locally, and relieving transport disruption caused by COVID-19

  • How the objectives and priorities in NTS2 around inclusivity and protecting communities can be achieved going forward, looking at:
    • transport modernisation - assessing the needs of Scotland’s transport system, addressing deficiencies in travel access and options, and the next steps for project design and engaging with development stakeholders
    • a system that serves Scottish communities - tackling health and access inequalities, increasing connections between rural areas and employment centres, and enabling economic and business growth outside of cities
    • meeting the needs of passengers - supporting journey affordability, changing passenger and commuter preferences, and growing intermodal options for transport connectivity
  • The role of City Region and Growth Deals in delivering strategies for transport improvements, such as addressing shortfalls in road and public transport infrastructure capacity, and increasing connectivity between cities
  • As the COVID-19 health emergency continues to have significant implications for Scotland’s transport network, discussion will also centre around the next steps for returning to normal services whilst preserving measures around safety, looking at:
    • latest thinking on social distancing and how to encourage passengers back to public transport whilst maintaining strict health and safety precautions
    • the transport needs of the disadvantaged and the vulnerable, and ensuring safe and reliable transport access is available now and as lockdown measures are relieved

Overcoming key challenges for the development of new transport infrastructure and ensuring the network is fit for purpose

  • Preparing Scotland’s transport infrastructure for future pressures, and tackling engineering and other challenges for development
  • Priorities for further development of Scotland’s existing transport infrastructure assets - ensuring rail and road capacity is prepared for growing passenger and freight demand
  • Working with the regulatory regime and developing projects more effectively - addressing barriers to delivery, partnership working with key and local stakeholders, and reducing project costs
  • Preparing the transport network for innovation and electric vehicles (EV) - identifying strategic locations for charging infrastructure, meeting expected growth in EV use, and ensuring installations are spread between rural, suburban and city environments

Integrating health and wellbeing priorities throughout Scotland’s transport plans and moving towards a just and fair transport transition

  • How the health and wellbeing of Scotland can be maintained and improved as the transport network further develops - assessing steps for ensuring new modes of transport are low-carbon and present minimal damage to the environment, as well as provide further opportunities for improving social cohesion and reducing poverty
  • Priorities for expanding the use of active travel options in Scotland - supporting the creation of walking and cycling facilities, clearer information on travel routes and options, and making healthy transport more attractive
  • Improving air quality levels across the transport system - accelerating the transition to low-carbon forms of transport, implementing stricter emissions limits, and improving access to greenspaces for health benefits
  • Protecting those at risk or in poverty from change - managing the net-zero transition, and ensuring a healthier transport system and environment leads to greater wellbeing

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of the Scottish Parliament, senior Scottish and UK government and regulatory officials involved in this area of public policy, together with local authorities, community groups and Regional Transport Partnerships; the freight industry; bus and rail operating companies; rolling stock providers and vehicle manufacturers; infrastructure developers; environmental groups; fuel and electricity providers; passenger groups and groups representing drivers; charities and advocacy bodies; businesses and their associations; consultancies and commentators; academics, research institutions and universities;; and reporters from the national and specialist media in Scotland and more widely.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Alison Irvine

Director, Transport Strategy and Analysis, Transport Scotland

Rachel Skinner

Executive Director & UK Head of Transport (Planning & Advisory), WSP; Senior Vice President, ICE; and Infrastructure Commissioner for Scotland

Robin Presswood

Executive Director of City Development, Dundee City Council


John Dowie

Director, Local Strategies, First Group

Ranald Robertson

Partnership Director, Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership

Frank Toner

Policy and Public Affairs Officer, British Lung Foundation

Stuart Sneddon

Air Quality Business Manager Scotland, Ricardo

John Lauder

Deputy Chief Executive, Sustrans

Rachael Murphy

Director for Scotland, Community Transport Association