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20mph speed limits: 'Have your say!' urges Highland Council

By Philip Murray

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Have your say on the new 20mph signs, Highland Council has urged.
Have your say on the new 20mph signs, Highland Council has urged.

Views of Highlanders over new 20mph speed limits will be sought when a consultation is thrown open next month – with the axing of some and creation of more all possible.

Highland Council has been busy rolling out new lower 20mph speed limits in communities across the council area in recent months.

Some towns have seen almost all of their streets reduced to the new limit to improve pedestrian safety – with data long showing that 20mph leads to far fewer serious injuries and fatalities.

But in other parts of the UK, they have also proven controversial, with motorists claiming they lead to longer journey times.

Highland Council recently revealed that the 20mph limits it is introducing were part of an initial Scottish trial, and were being done using temporary road traffic orders – meaning they will lapse and revert unless formally adopted.

Related: WATCH: Roll-out of 20mph speed limit scheme continues with 75 per cent of works completed

Related: 20mph speed limits may be 'reversed' in some Highland roads, council report confirms

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It said this was always its intention, so as to gauge what limits are working, which are proving problematic, and even which routes not initially considered might also be worth adopting the lower limit.

And, and a meeting of the council's environment and infrastructure committee on Thursday, councillors were given an update on the scheme – and also announced plans for a public consultation from next month.

Committee chairman, Councillor Ken Gowans, said: “I welcome the update on this excellent approach to road safety in the Highlands and this paper lays clear that within the programme timetable we have all along included the potential for a small number of roads to revert to the original speed limit.

“Our approach of bringing the new limit in under a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order was done on the basis that this was to trial the new limits in our communities and where and when required this allows the limit to revert to the original limit.

"We welcome the feedback and engagement from communities whether it is positive or negative as it supports the decision making on future direction of the programme.

“The upcoming consultation will allow communities to provide further feedback on the 20mph programme and it will provide a platform for them to identify areas they feel support, wish to be included or reverted to the original limit. This will be launched next month, and I would encourage people to make use of this opportunity to engage on this road safety matter.”

The council said that, through communications from various members of the local communities and through awareness amongst the programme team, a limited number of roads had been identified as more suitable to reverting to the original 30mph speed limits, but added that this potentially only relates to a "small number" of roads (likely to be single digits).

The public consultation survey will assess the current scheme extents and gather public feedback on the 20mph speed limit. The various 20mph limits will be fully adopted in "late summer" next year.

The survey will allow communities to comment on roads they wish to see assessed for inclusion in the scheme, whether they believe the new reduced limits are benefitting their community and look at whether they think it is appropriate to return certain roads to their original limit.

Councillor Gowans stressed that no decisions have yet been made and nor will they be made before all information and feedback from the public consultation has been gathered and analysed.

The public consultation, which will launch next month, will run for a six-week period.

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