Typical traffic jam on a fine day on Loch Lomondside.
By Elaine Brewer
A new Journey Planner app is being trialled to encourage visitors to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to consider more sustainable modes of transport.
As part of Scotland’s Climate Week, the National Park Authority has launched a ‘beta’ version of the app to help day trippers access information on travel options more easily and to encourage them to use public transport and cycling where practical.
The National Park Journey Planner app is a pilot project which gives visitors a wider range of travel options in one place, to make it easier to research, plan and book a day trip.
Visitors can also use the app to check and compare the carbon impacts of different modes of travel.
While it is recognised that not all areas of the National Park can currently be reached by public transport, there are alternatives to car travel for some of the most popular parts of the Park.
By encouraging visitors to leave the car at home, the National Park Authority hopes to reduce the pressure on already busy roads and car parks and encourage more climate-friendly travel to and within the Park.
The pilot will also be used to gather valuable feedback and data on the demand for more transport services, to inform longer term planning on sustainable travel.
Kenny Auld, Head of Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “Sustainable transport is vital for tackling the climate emergency and we are developing a programme of measures to make it easier to travel to and within the National Park in a climate-friendly way. This includes electric vehicles for our Rangers, an electric boat for patrolling Loch Lomond and e-bikes for our volunteers.
“While some parts of the National Park are more remote than others, there are many destinations that are accessible by sustainable transport options. Using trains, buses, bikes and even walking to make up your journey brings multiple benefits, including physical and mental health benefits and often, a more enjoyable journey.
Camper vans and other large vehicles can cause road blocks in National Park.
“Car parks in our busiest locations fill up early and congestion on our roads is a problem for visitors and communities alike. We are also witnessing the impacts of the global climate emergency within the National Park and opting for sustainable transport options is a positive step we can all take towards reducing emissions.
“We know this shift will take time, and recognise the need for better transport provision in rural areas, so this is a step in the right direction and just one of several projects we are rolling out to encourage and enable more climate friendly, active travel.”
This summer visitors have also been asked to consider ‘A Different Adventure’ by trying out lesser-known walking destinations and a Countryside Trust campaign has encouraged day trippers from Glasgow to leave the car behind and use public transport to visit the National Park.
The National Park Journey Planner app was developed in partnership with Tactran and funded by Transport Scotland as a pilot, to provide data and feedback regarding transport services and demand.
Visitors coming to the National Park can test out this beta version of the app to plan and pay for their journey and to check travel plans throughout the day, even when offline.
Energy saver – the Loch Lomond Park Authority’s electric boat.
Tactran chair Cllr Richard McCready said: “I am delighted to be working with Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority on the launch of the Tactran ENABLE project.
“The National Park Journey Planner will raise awareness of active and sustainable travel options for journeys to and around the National Park.
“We hope this journey planning tool can help us refine what the app can do and that this work can be built on to improve sustainable access to all our public services and destinations.”
The National Park Journey Planner can be downloaded for Apple devices via the App Store or via the Play Store for Android devices. It is also available as a web app on the National Park website: www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/journeyplanner/
Meanwhile, West Dunbartonshire Council has reduced its carbon emissions by 26% in the past seven years. A council-wide programme of activities to tackle climate change has seen emissions reduce from 32,938 tonnes of CO2 in 2012/13 to 24,394 tonnes in 2019/20.
Details of the reduction come as the Council marks Scottish Climate Week – which runs from 13-16 September – and reaffirm the Council’s ambition to become a net zero organization by 2045 as set out in its Climate Change Strategy.
Projects including LED lighting upgrades, energy efficiency measures for heating school buildings, the closure of Boquhanran House and the relocation of Council employees to new offices at Church Street have all contributed to the year on year reduction.
Across the organisation, officers are continuing to engage in a variety of initiatives to tackle the impact of climate change.
The £20 million District Heating System at Queens Quay, which takes water from the Clyde to transform it into low carbon hot water for homes and public buildings, shows the Council’s firm commitment to low carbon technology.
In addition, projects including transitioning of pool cars to an electric fleet with chargers sited at offices in Clydebank and Dumbarton; promotion of active travel for commuting employees; and new cremators and heat exchange system installed at Clydebank Crematorium all contribute to reduced carbon footprint.
Focus also remains on reducing building numbers and replacing with energy efficient alternatives; ensuring all contracts with the Council take into account the environmental impact; ensuring solar technology and insulation is available in Council homes; enhancing biodiversity and greenspace to increase local plant and animal diversity; and implementing a sustainable Waste Strategy.
Councillor Iain McLaren, left, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “West Dunbartonshire Council has an ambitious programme of activities to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change and this is demonstrated by the fact that we have seen such an impressive reduction in a short space of time.
“During Scottish Climate Week, and with just a few weeks to go until Scotland welcomes leaders from all over the world to discuss how best to tackle climate change at COP26, I am proud that our vast programme of action demonstrates our true commitment to not just reducing our carbon footprint, but also taking action to ensure we are resilient to any future conditions.”
Councillor Diane Docherty, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world and it will have far reaching effects on Scotland’s economy, its people and its environment.
“We are committed to reducing our consumption of energy, water and fuel, as well as minimising our waste production and I am delighted to see our plans for continuing to lower our carbon emissions as we work towards being net zero in 2045.”