Bus and cars along a road painted in watercolour

Forth Valley Connectivity Commission

Established in September 2021, the Forth Valley Connectivity Commission considered how enhanced transport and connectivity can support the region’s transition to Net Zero.

Bringing together representatives from the local economy, local authorities, and academic expertise from the University of Stirling, the Commission considered connectivity challenges facing the Forth Valley from a regional perspective, proposing a coherent, evidence-based programme of recommendations that builds on major investments to unlock the region’s maximum economic potential.  

The Commission took evidence from a range of targeted stakeholders across the region and compiled its findings in its first publication: Forth Valley Connectivity Commission Issues Report (February 2022).

Connectivity ‘trilemma’

Scotland has ambitious economic, social, and environmental aspirations, set within a global context of climate change. Each region of Scotland must play its part, and nowhere has an ‘opt-out’. In the Forth Valley, this challenge has its own dimensions, and these will require an intelligent response if the region is to sieze the opportunities presented by a just transition to Net Zero.

The Commission’s Issues Report identified three interlocking connectivity challenges that must be overcome to enable the region to achieve its full economic potential:

  • Securing a transformation from a carbon-intensive to a Net Zero region.
  • Supporting people and their places to be more productive.
  • Planning for a just transition and inclusive growth across the entire region.

The Commission’s proposed solutions to this trilemma are set out in its Final Report: Bridging Divides, Connecting Communities (November 2023).

Three Big Moves

The Commission’s Final Report recommends three ‘Big Moves’ that the region’s political and economic leaders consider, which will provide the foundation for enhanced connectivity. These stronger connections will, in turn, support the region’s economic transition to Net Zero, but ensure that individuals, families and communities left behind by the current system can access these opportunities fairly: a ‘just transition’.

  1. Stop making things worse. Avoid planning decisions that exacerbate reliance on private vehicles for journeys within the region, and restrict access to employment, leisure, and public services to those reliant on other means of transport.
  2. Fix the region’s urban centers. Re-urbanising the Forth Valley’s three key centres to arrest the decline of town and city centres and increase the number of people living in denser environments with services close by. This both reduces the need for car journeys locally and increases the catchment of core public transport nodes, particularly railway stations, accessible by walking and cycling.
  3. Set out on the journey to creating the future transport network we need. Investment in a safe, connected, and region-wide active travel network that integrates fully with a reliable, low-carbon rapid bus transit system.

Taken together, the Three Big Moves provide a blueprint for the Forth Valley to maximise its economic productivity and foster an inclusive route map to a more sustainable way of living. The Commission’s vision is to ensure that, through enhanced connectivity, the Forth Valley is among the best comparable regions internationally, providing a powerful legacy that enables future generations to prosper.   

About the Commission

Secretariat support was provided by the University of Stirling, under the umbrella of Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC). Established as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, the Centre’s mission is to create a net zero regional economy and act as a global exemplar of low-carbon growth.