Monday, 2 June 2014

Road speed reduction advice urged . . .


Road speed reduction advice urged

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Motorists could be asked to drive 10mph slower to protect the environment and stay safe in extreme weather, the Environment Minister has said.

Former transport minister Stewart Stevenson, who resigned over his response to severe snow which brought the M8 to a standstill overnight in 2011, has asked ministers to urge people to drive more slowly.

His successor Keith Brown and Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse will meet to discuss how this could help with their harmful emissions targets, which have been missed two years in a row.

The meeting will come on the back of Scotland's first statutory Climate Change Adaptation Programme, designed to increase the resilience of people, the environment and the economy to severe weather.

Climate change poses a threat to health and wellbeing, emergency services, businesses, coastal communities, plant and animal life, buildings and energy, transport and water infrastructure, the programme states.

Amongst its recommendations is a focus on improving driver skills in extreme conditions.

Speaking at Holyrood, Mr Stevenson, a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "Driving 10mph slower delivers 10% cash savings and 10% emissions savings for only 2-3% average speed reduction on journeys.

"Will the minister commission work to identify how we might take forward a response to that a Scottish context?"

Mr Wheelhouse said: "Reducing speed will have a benefit of reducing emissions through fuel efficient driving.

"We are enabling people to become responsible drivers, reducing emissions, through not only speed control but other measures such as gear selection.

"We have funded the Energy Savings Trust to provide 2,000 FuelGood sessions this year, but we are also continuing to look at demand to ensure we can support as many drivers as possible.

"On the specific issue on whether we can commission work on this, I will have a discussion with Mr Brown on this as it does cut across his portfolio interest so I promise to raise that issue with Mr Brown and see if there is a possibility of looking at what the impact could be on our climate emission targets."

He added: "Human activity is changing the global climate and this is something the Scottish Government takes extremely seriously.

"We are already seeing evidence of Scotland's changing climate. Over the last few decades our climate has warmed, sea-levels have risen, rainfall patterns have changed and we have been impacted by extreme weather events.

"As recently as this past winter, Scotland experienced the devastating effects extreme weather can bring and this is why we have put well developed resilience arrangements in place to help minimise their impacts.

"Mitigation of climate change is undoubtedly of high importance - that's why our greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets set out in the Act are the most ambitious in the world. But equally, adaptation is crucial. We must be as prepared and resilient as possible to deal with the impacts of climate change here in Scotland."

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