Highland Council Delay in Producing Draft Green Transport Strategy
Highlands and Islands Greens have called on The Highland Council to make urgent progress in publishing its draft green transport strategy.
“We welcome the prominent place the Council has given in its 2012-2017 work programme to developing a green transport strategy” said Neil Hornsby, Highlands and Islands Greensʼ campaigns co-ordinator.
“But that announcement was made almost a year ago, and we now understand that the draft may not be published for public consultation until the end of the year. Such a delay is unacceptable.
“The strategy will comprise a crucial step towards significantly greeing travel in the Highlands. As well as including specific measures, the strategy needs to have clear objectives, that aim to minimise the need to travel, and so lower travel costs, reduce emissions, conserve scarce resources, and provide safe residential areas for children to ‘play-out’.
“Our priority is for Inverness city-centre to be redeveloped as an integrated bus/rail hub. We also propose park and ride provision, specifically at Beechwood, and from where there should be a light-rail shuttle service into town. We also favour a park and ride facility at Tore, which all the Councillors at a Black Isle Ward forum supported but which seems to have been quietly dropped.
“We also look forward to seeing our proposals for Inverness reflected in the Councilʼs ‘Inverness City Centre Development Brief’ project.
“More widely, we call for:
- Electrifying and dualling railways from Inverness in all directions (or at least substantial additional dualled sections), particularly as expansion of moving freight by rail is currently hampered by the different train speeds required. Railways could be dualled at a fraction of the cost of dualling roads.
- Far greater capital investment programme in designated cycleway/footpaths. In this regard we note that only £585K over three years has been allocated for the Highland-wide Highland Core Paths Implementation programme. This disappointing sum contrasts markedly to the £27 million or more that the Council proposes spending on an unnecessary and uneconomic West link road across the Ness and canal, and the £13 million it spends annually on roads maintenance.
The Highland Councilʼs programme of work ‘Working Together for the Highlands’ * 2012-2017 was agreed in June 2012, and includes the Councilʼs committment to developing a green transport strategy: ‘Working with partner agencies, the Council will draft a Green Transport Strategy’. No information has yet emerged about the Councilʼs proposals.
* See http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E39C4199-2071-4F04-BAFC-66F13C6B83DB/0/betterinfrastructure.pdf