Cotswold District Transport Decarbonisation Study


City Science was commissioned by Cotswold District Council (CDC) to develop a Transport Decarbonisation Study to underpin the development of CDC’s Sustainable Transport Strategy. This Study sought to understand the baseline transport emissions from the District, in order to identify the interventions which would be best suited to each place type. This could then feed into the development of a full strategy for the District.



CDC declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and has made a commitment to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2045. The purpose of this Study was to understand the sources of carbon emissions in Cotswold District, and develop a list of interventions that could contribute to the development of a net zero pathway. This Study drew on City Science’s involvement with the RTPI Net Zero Transport research paper.

City Science Response

Due to the varied nature of Cotswold District, we developed a place-based approach which acknowledged the variation in public transport access to key services, including education, healthcare, and employment. Based on this analysis, the following place types were defined and used in the subsequent analysis:

  • Cirencester Central
  • Local Hubs
  • Rural Settlements

Baseline Report: We conducted detailed analysis into the nature and source of transport carbon emissions in the District using a bespoke methodology that leveraged several data sources, including BEIS Local Authority Emissions data, National Travel Survey data, and DfT Traffic Statistics. The data revealed that medium length journeys (10-25 miles) were responsible for the greatest proportion of emissions, which helped guide the development of the interventions later in the process. A ‘Do Nothing’ forecast was also produced, highlighting the impact of CDC taking no direct action on carbon emissions, as well as an indicative pathway to net zero that would meet CDC’s 2045 target.

Emissions by Trip Length
Carbon Emissions in Cotswold District by Trip Length

Option Development & Appraisal: We facilitated multiple workshops to develop a long list of interventions for Cotswold District across the Avoid-Shift-Improve framework. We then sifted the 59 options using a multi-criteria analysis, which took into account place type, carbon impact, cost, public acceptability, and several themes from the Local Transport Plan. The top 30 options for Cirencester and the Local Hubs, and separately for Rural Settlements, were identified.

Top 30 Interventions
Top 30 Interventions for the Rural Settlement Place Type

Carbon Analysis: In order to develop a clearer understanding of the impact of the top 30 interventions on Cotswold District’s pathway to net zero, we undertook a quantitative carbon analysis of each intervention. Targets for the implementation of the interventions were used to estimate the magnitude of the effect each would have on the District’s carbon output, and a percentage carbon reduction (relative to the 2045 Do Nothing scenario) was calculated.

Route Map Development: In order to put the findings into context, we developed transport decarbonisation route maps for each of the three place types. The purpose of this was to break down the trajectory of decarbonisation by 2045 into manageable targets and timeframes, setting them within the policy context of the district, the county, and the rest of the UK.


Our key finding from this Study was the gap in scale and pace of change required to meet CDC’s 2045 net zero target. In order to meet this target, a ‘do everything’ approach is required – taking all opportunities to decarbonise and help people make changes and choices that will support a long-term shift to a low carbon transport system.