Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to frequently asked questions about the Sustainable Travel Policy
This page includes answers to questions, queries or concerns raised about the Sustainable Travel Policy. We will update this page with relevant questions as they come up.
This policy is applicable to all staff, students, visitors or guests where the travel is paid for by the University (including research funding managed by the University). This includes local travel, national travel (whether within the UK or abroad) and international travel.
The policy is not applicable if your travel is fully paid for by another organisation (excluding research funding managed by the University). However, in these limited instances we suggest that travellers continue to follow the good practices set out in the Sustainable Travel Policy.
Until the Sustainable Travel Policy is launched later in 2021, there are no changes to the way you book or undertake travel (in accordance with Government and University Covid-19 regulations). Once the policy launches, the following changes will take place:
Travellers: If you travel on behalf of the University, you will need to have considered whether alternatives for travel are possible to achieve the set outcome. If travel is required, then you must clearly show that the lowest-carbon mode of transport has been selected, in accordance with the Travel Hierarchy, taking into account of relevant exceptions.
Travel bookers: If you book travel for yourself or others, you will be required to follow a new travel booking process. Further details of this process, including information on training and suppoting resources, will be announced once a new travel management supplier has been embedded at the University.
Host: If you invite guests or visitors to the University, you will be required to ensure that guests and visitors follow the Sustainable Travel Policy. This may mean supporting them to understand whether travel must take place, establishing their travel options in accordance with the Sustainable Travel Policy and booking travel on their behalf.
Leadership Teams: You will be asked to support embedding of the Sustainable Travel Policy through ensuring staff attend relevant training and are aware of relevant resources. In addition, Leadership Teams across the University will be provided with regular reports to support compliance with the policy.
This policy builds on the new ways of working developed during Covid-19 pandemic to minimise the need to travel. It also supports staff and students to travel in a safe manner by reducing the expectation that travel must take place.
The Sustainable Travel Policy continues to support essential travel – whether for research, learning or teaching. It enhances the safety of our staff, reduces the environmental impact of our travel, and manages our travel related finances.
The policy also increases inclusion and improves career opportunities for those that are unable to travel (for example: due to disability; those with caring responsibilities; or those unable to travel due to risks to their personal safety).
We are aware that current regulations around local, national and international travel can change with short notice. The Sustainable Travel Policy supports safe travel in-line with existing government guidance. For up-to-date guidance from the University, see the relevant travel sections of the University's Covid-19 webpages.
You will need to receive authorisation for travel in the following situations:
- when travelling internationally (i.e. where the origin or destination are outside the UK)
- for any travel involving students (either individually or as a group)
This authorisation is required prior to finalising the booking of travel, and must include a suitable risk assessment.
Authorisation is not required:
- for travel that takes place within the UK
- where a specific trip has already been accounted for in the terms of receiving a restricted research grant
Where authorisation is not required, travel may still only take place where it is safe to do so and requires the completion of a suitable risk assessment.
Many of the processes set out in the sustainable travel policy are already in place at the University. The policy ensures that the same process is followed across the University, so that we can better support our staff and students when they are travelling. As the process is awaiting the completion of a new tender for a single Travel management supplier before it is finalised, we cannot examine whether this will take more resource to complete.
The tender process is taking in the views of travellers and travel bookers from across the University, and we will use these views to shape our requests from suppliers
We are currently undertaking a tender process for a single Travel Management supplier. As part of this process we have commissioned a small panel of travellers and travel bookers to feed in to this process to ensure the views of users are heard. This panel brings together travellers, travel bookers and leadership teams with a wealth of experience to ensure that the we ask the right questions and the service level agreed to with a new supplier is appropriate.
The tender process is due to be completed in 2021.
In addition to the tender process noted above, the Sustainable Travel Policy allows group travel bookers to approach multiple suppliers in order to establish the most suitable quote for their specific trip.
Further details for group bookings will be available once a single travel management supplier has been selected through the tender process.
Should this not be possible, on a small number of occasions this journey may be eligible to travel by air. However, such decisions will require pre-authorisation from the travellers Head of School or Department Director and must be considered only as a last resort.
For air travel, the default class is economy. Premium Economy and Business class may be allowable for disability or for other health related reasons. First class travel is not accepted for any air journey.
For rail travel, first class is acceptable for journeys over 2.5 hours, where travellers are anticipating working for the majority of their journey.
Sleeper train or bus services are also permissible for overnight travel
“Room only” rates for accommodation are provided in the policy. We understand that the costs within a region can vary and so, where it is not possible to adhere to these costs, travellers are requested to apply for an exemption as part of the booking process.
When booking accommodation, we ask that you consider all elements of a booking including personal safety and additional costs not included in the costs such as meals or local transport.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
In order to ensure your safety, we ask that travellers who require an exemption for any reason request this exemption when completing the booking process. No further details are requested as to the reason for this exemption.
Further details around the mechanism for requesting an exemption will be released at a later date.
Travellers will not be asked to disclose their reason for applying for an exemption to the University.
For some policy principles, there are a limited number of exemptions set out in the Sustainable Travel Policy as follows:
For disability or other health-related reasons
- Where childcare or other caring responsibilities means that specific modes of transport are the only viable option to ensure the wellbeing of travellers and those they care for
- Where there is an increased risk to the personal safety of the traveller
These exemptions are based on the output from the Equality Impact Assessment completed alongside this policy.
There are also exceptions that allow air travel within the UK:
- For journeys to locations out with mainland Great Britain, including to islands such as Shetland or the Outer Hebrides, as well as to Northern Ireland
- To connect with an onward flight to a location out with mainland Britain. For example, flying from Edinburgh to London Heathrow to connect to a flight to Dubai
The University plans to take responsibility for unavoidable carbon emissions by direct sequestration rather than participating in carbon offsetting schemes.
The University generates carbon emissions during many of its activities, such as when heating our buildings, using non-electric vehicles and flying for business travel.
In order to become net zero carbon by 2040, the University will:
- reduce its emissions where there is a technical possibility to do so; such as by electrifying our vehicle fleet where possible; improving the way we power and heat our buildings; and by replacing non-essential travel with alternatives where available
- sequester carbon from unavoidable emissions, such as essential flights.
When emissions are unavoidable, such as from flying, it is important that the University calculates the amount of emissions produced and then takes action to ensure an equivalent or greater amount of carbon emissions are removed from the atmosphere.
While the University finalises its process for direct carbon sequestration, we ask University schools, colleges, departments and staff not to offset their own emissions through carbon offsetting schemes.
To find out more, visit the University's Carbon Sequestration webpages.