Transport Scotland has invited Highland Council to be a pilot Local Authority for the National 20 mph Implementation Strategy.
The Strategy seeks to introduce a consistency for 20 mph speed limits across the country with the aim of promoting road safety through simplifying speed limits for drivers, reducing perceptions of road danger, encouraging people to walk and wheel, and create more pleasant towns, villages and neighbourhoods by providing a more equitable environment for all road users.
In order to bring this forward, suitability assessments are currently being carried out across 130 sites around the Council Area ahead of the roll out of 20 mph speed limits to communities across the Highlands.
These assessments are taking place where speed limits of 30 mph or below already exist.
The public may have noticed speed survey monitors on some of their local roads as part of this work.
The assessments are to see which sites meet the Scottish Governments New Place criteria.
Only sites meeting this criteria will be considered for the 20 mph roll out.
A report on the programme will be presented at the Economy and Infrastructure Committee on 10th November which will update members on the work that the Council’s Road Safety Team are doing to prepare for the 20 mph roll out which is due to be completed by Summer 2023.
At the Committee, members will be invited to put forward any additional settlements they feel may meet the Place Criteria for assessment to the Road Safety Team.
Once all assessments are completed, details of where the 20 mph roll outs will be located will be provided and promoted on the Council’s website.
As early adopters, all costs of the roll out to the Council will be fully funded by Transport Scotland (Scottish Government).
Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Ken Gowans said:
“We are delighted that Transport Scotland have approached Highland Council to become early adopters and I’d like to thank them and our Road Safety Team for all their work in preparing for this important project across our Highland communities.
“The introduction of 20 mph speed limits in appropriate areas has gathered support since my motion to the last committee.
“The first substantive report detailing the process will be presented to the next meeting of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee in early November.
“Research has shown that a reduction in speed makes our streets safer places and reduces the likelihood of collision and severity of injuries.
“This will support and encourage more active travel and make our communities safer, especially for our children.
“The scale of this road safety project, which will have significant benefits for the safety of all road users within the Highland Area, is unprecedented and I personally feel it is one of the most important pieces of work the Council is currently leading on.
“Our communities have told us of their concerns when it comes to the speed of traffic and improving the safety of everyone.
“This initiative is fully funded by the Scottish Government and will be widely welcomed.”
A Transport Scotland spokesperson added:
“The Scottish Government remains committed to making our streets safer and to enabling more sustainable travel choices that benefit public health and our environmental targets.
“Our Programme for Government confirms this position with a commitment to “Roll out our national strategy for expanding 20mph (strategy), with more roads and areas reducing their speed limits to 20mph, making our streets feel safer and encouraging active travel.
“Implementation of the strategy will have a positive impact on the perceptions of road danger whilst encouraging people to walk, wheel and cycle.
“It will create more pleasant streets and neighbourhoods, supporting Scotland’s health, safety and active travel aspirations across Scotland.”