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Highland Council gets £1.2m more for green travel projects


By Andrew Dixon

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Highland Council has received an additional £1.2 million for green travel projects which will benefit Wick, Thurso and other towns.

It follows an earlier £752,954 from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund. The council now intends to submit a third funding bid.

The money is paying for temporary measures aimed at helping social distancing when walking, wheeling or cycling.

Changes have already included barriers to widen pavements, new paths and plans for reduced speed limits and one-way systems.

The so-called "interventions" in response to the pandemic are taking place in Inverness, Nairn, Aviemore, Dingwall, Fort William, Wick and Portree. The additional money means more measures can be rolled out in Aviemore, Fort William, Portree, Thurso and Wick.

Councillor Trish Robertson, chairwoman of the economy and infrastructure committee, said: "Sustainable active travel for leisure and for travelling from A to B has never been so popular and the Spaces for People project to improve safety for everyone will, I am sure, encourage more individuals and families to continue to enjoy the benefits of walking and cycling.

New measures in Academy Street are designed to make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
New measures in Academy Street are designed to make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

"As well as physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise, the increase in walking and cycling is also an important factor in our transition to an economy based on net-zero carbon emissions.”

An online consultation gives people the chance to comment on all of the measures.

The council stressed it is monitoring feedback and responding quickly to any issues.

It says more than 850 comments have been logged, with more than 70 per cent showing support, adding 2400 people have also signed a petition urging the council to do more.

Councillor Robertson added: “This period of lockdown has given us all, no matter where we live, a different understanding and appreciation of space. I hope that we can learn from this experience and make walking, wheeling and cycling a bigger part of our everyday travel, which will have multiple other benefits to our health, climate and air quality, not to mention reducing congestion.”

“Already we have seen a reduction in traffic and an increase in active travel during the pandemic which we want to encourage and build upon. It is crucial that we keep momentum going to maximise the public health benefits of this project.”


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