Fact Check-Scotland’s ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ policy addresses climate change and infrastructure; there are no plans to imprison people or limit freedom of movement

Social media users claim a Scottish climate policy will imprison people in their homes and prevent them from leaving their respective ‘districts’. However, no details in the public documents about the proposal suggest this will happen. The government plans to overhaul the infrastructure of towns and cities by creating ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’, which aim to provide people with all their needs within a 20-minute journey from their home.

One Facebook user, whose post has been shared more than 500 times (here), published a screenshot of a news headline which reads: “Scotland aims to cut car use by creating ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ in net zero push” (here). The user accompanied the screenshot with their own caption, having interpreted it to mean that the reported scheme would affect freedom of movement by preventing people from leaving their designated neighborhoods more than once or twice a week.

Another said the policy would turn each city into “an open-air, geo-fenced prison, with digital checkpoints, cameras and fines for unauthorised entry and exit” (here).

However, there are no details in public documents about the proposal to suggest any of these claims are valid.

‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ is one policy among nearly three dozen that form the Scottish Government’s Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) – “a long term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed” (here).

The Revised Draft of NPF4 – which was approved by the Scottish Parliament on Jan. 11, and is set to be adopted and published by Scottish Ministers on Feb. 13 (here) – contains no details about imprisoning people in districts, limiting the number of times they can leave their neighbourhoods, or any use of digital checkpoints, cameras and fines (page 61) (

A Scottish Government spokesperson also told Reuters via email that claims about curtailing people’s freedom and imprisoning them in specified districts “are completely inaccurate and untrue.”

“20-minute neighbourhoods seek to create connected local communities, enabling people to meet most daily needs within a reasonable distance of home by walking, cycling, using sustainable public transport or mobility scooters, prams or wheelchairs,” they said.

“It promotes an integrated approach to planning housing, local infrastructure including schools, community centres, local shops and health and social care. The aim is to prioritise quality of life, help tackle inequalities, improve health and well-being, and respond to the climate emergency.”

Reuters has addressed a similar claim about traffic filter technology in Oxford and Oxfordshire (here).


Misleading. Scotland’s ‘20-minute neighbourhood’ policy does not include plans to imprison people in districts or use cameras and fines to deter people from moving around.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.