During his visit to the Highlands today (26 April), Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens’ co-convenor and top candidate for the Glasgow region, castigated the Liberal Democrat-led Highland Council for its indifference to fundamentally addressing climate change in its Highland-wide Development Plan proposals.
Patrick said: “I am staggered that the Plan is so heavily roads biased, while specification for cycleways is virtually non-existent. The East Inverness section, for example, is full of detailed and specific road measures — yet only includes one brief mention of a cycle lane.
“Provision for green networks generally is relegated to the status of supplementary guidance — and even that states that ‘It is not the intention of the green network to create new formal green spaces in the countryside’.
“The Plan’s wider proposals for the A96 corridor demonstrate the Lib Dem-led Council’s preoccupation with roads. The vast areas of new retail space proposed will draw in huge volumes of additional traffic from far and wide.
“All this is a direct contradiction of the Council’s stated intention of reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air.
“Instead, the Plan should have sustainable development, and in particular tackling climate change, at its core. It should primarily focus on developing existing communities, so minimising the need to travel, and on cycling and developing green networks. As it is, the LibDem-led Council’s policies will result in more, not less travel.
“The Scottish Government has set a target for Scotland to reduce the country’s emissions for greenhouse gases by at least 42% by 2020. Development Plans should be a fundamental step in realising this target. Disturbingly, the roads provisions of the Lib-Dem-led Highland Council Plan will achieve very little in the way of reducing emissions, and have the very real prospect of making the situation far worse.
“Electing a Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands will give the region someone who will fight to protect existing communities from the sort of ill-thought out development.”