Local Transport Plans and Quantifiable Carbon Reductions (QCR)

22 June 2023

DfT has set a provisional target for Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) to submit their updated Local Transport Plan (LTP) by Spring 2024. This means that many LTAs will be needing to generate their LTP during the coming year.

DfT’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan introduces a key new requirement (compared to previous LTP versions) for these LTPs, which is the need to set out how local areas will deliver ambitious transport decarbonisation – referred to as Quantifiable Carbon Reductions (QCR). Furthermore, DfT funding will be allocated to LTAs according, in part, to the decarbonisation evidenced by their LTP’s QCR. This makes getting QCR right hugely important for LTAs who wish to translate Government’s national decarbonisation targets into local action.

In the remainder of this blog, we cover off some of the key questions LTAs might have around QCR and highlight how our services can support you in this.

What is QCR?

QCR stands for Quantifiable Carbon Reductions. It relates to the idea that, from hereon, LTPs will need to quantify the decarbonisation associated with the policies contained within. This will ensure that LTPs align with national and local carbon budgets and net zero commitments.

Is there any guidance on QCR?

Alongside refreshing the guidance for generating LTPs more widely (from the previous 2009 version), DfT has drafted specific guidance relating to QCR which has not yet been formally adopted. Here at City Science we have key insight into the fundamentals of the guidance because of our engagement with DfT. Our longstanding involvement in the field of transport decarbonisation meant that DfT wanted our well-established tool and processes to be considered during the guidance’s formation. We have remained in close contact with the DfT and the guidance authors and so understand the key elements of the framework set out by the guidance, which our tools and process naturally fit to.

What are City Science’s key insights for effective QCR?

Although the details of QCR guidance are not yet finalised, we believe the following are crucial stages to success.

1) Understand baseline emissions – To effectively target the policies of the LTP, it is crucial to understand the relative contribution of transport carbon sources in the local area. To achieve this for clients such as England’s Economic Heartland, we have developed QCR guidance-aligned methods which give LTA emissions disaggregated by sources including: vehicle type, road type and journey purpose.

2) Determine the ‘emissions gap’ – To measure the impact of the LTP it is important to separate out the emissions remaining after national and regional policy is applied, and compare this to local decarbonisation targets. The emissions in this ‘gap’ are those that are targeted by the LTP. We have determined the ‘emissions gap’ for clients such as Westminster City Council.

3) Generate a strong policy shortlist – Creating a varied and robust long list of possible policies at the generation stage will allow only strong options to pass through the shortlisting process. The shortlisting should be done using high-level but robust filters, such as considering whole-life carbon. Our Transport Decarbonisation Policy Database contains over 90 possible policies, and is continually updated with the latest developments.

4) Repeatable and robust quantification of carbon reductions owing to policy – The impact of policies on carbon must be quantified using repeatable and robust modelling methods. We are currently developing (commissioned by three Sub-national Transport Bodies) an industry-leading tool for use by local authorities to determine the impact of over 30 policies, drawing on the latest evidence and modelling methods available.

5) Communicate and engage – Bringing internal and external stakeholders into the conversation is key for effective LTP design. With DfT funding we have developed our free-to-access online decarbonisation tool to assist with communicating the impact of different policies, and facilitate testing and proactive engagement.

How can we help?

At City Science, we continue to play a role at the forefront of this emerging field - for example we are currently engaged with the guidance authors to develop a new tool for the local authorities of three Subnational Transport Bodies to determine QCR-aligned LTPs. We offer bespoke services which can range from generating your LTP, supporting QCR within the LTP, or creating and providing access to our tools. To arrange a discussion to explore how we might support your needs please email info@cityscience.com