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31 December 2009

New Year travel: care urged - Scotland still experiencing Arctic conditions

SCOTLAND'S TRANSPORT NETWORK CONTINUES TO COPE WITH FREEZING CONDITIONS

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson praised the round the clock operation to keep traffic moving and said travellers should continue to take extra care when out celebrating the New Year.

Stewart Stevenson said:

“Adverse weather conditions continue - some of the coldest conditions in recent times - and temperatures are set to plummet below freezing again with snow predicted for parts of Scotland.

“Roads will be busy and people should continue to take that extra bit of care when travelling. Gritting and road safety operations will continue around the clock and local authorities are doing a tremendous job in the circumstances. Traffic Scotland, the traffic management service, is continuing to monitor the situation with the police and operating companies.

“I would like to thank the many workers who will give up their New Year to keep Scotland moving. Have a safe and happy New Year.”

30 December 2009

Travel safely into icy New Year, advises Minister

SCOTLAND WELL-PREPARED FOR CONTINUING FREEZE BUT EXTRA CARE NEEDED

The country’s transport network is continuing to cope in the face of plummeting temperatures thanks to the dedication of workers keeping things moving, says Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson.

As freezing conditions and high winds were predicted to take us into the New Year, Mr Stevenson praised the 24-hour operations to keep traffic moving over the festive period. And he called on the public to take extra care when out and about, particularly over Hogmanay when temperatures in the main cities are not expected to get above minus 3C and in rural areas where minus 8C will be the norm.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Our roads are expected to be extremely busy in the next 24 hours as we celebrate the new year. It is therefore vitally important that the public take extra care to minimise the risk of accidents.

"The freezing temperatures throughout the country and strong winds across the north and north east mean it will feel exceptionally cold with the possibility of black ice on untreated roads and pavements.

“Gritting operations will continue around the clock and there are substantial salt stocks around the country with supplies about to be replenished. Traffic Scotland, the traffic management service, is working in tandem with the emergency services to keep Scotland moving as we witness continued freezing temperatures.

“I would like to pay tribute to the continued work of those involved in keeping our roads clear, operating rail, continuing our ferry services and manning our airports, all of whom have been working round the clock during the festive period to keep Scotland moving.”

23 December 2009

Concerted effort to keep Scotland moving


SNOW CLEARING IS ONGOING BUT PUBLIC MUST GO CAREFULLY IN HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has praised the mobilisation of workers operating around the clock to keep Scotland’s transport network moving in the face of further snow and freezing conditions.

The Minister also called on the public to help ease the situation by avoiding unnecessary journeys while clearance operations continued across the country.

He said:

“Winter maintenance on the trunk road network is monitored and managed 24/7 and Traffic Scotland is continuing to work in tandem with emergency services to keep Scotland moving as we witness significant snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

“Salting across the network was being carried out overnight and will continue throughout the day with 2,500 tonnes of salt already spread on the trunk roads.

“In order to relieve the pressure on the roads, particularly at this busiest of times, it’s important that travellers should plan before making essential journeys and check forecasts, listen to the radio and consult transport websites to allow them to make reasoned judgments about travelling.

“Travellers should also spare a thought for all those involved in clearing the roads, operating rail and manning our airports, who are working round the clock to ensure they complete their journeys in time for Christmas. Above all, they should avoid unnecessary journeys which may add to disruption.”

Background


For latest travel information, go to www.trafficscotland.org

21 December 2009

Salmond & Stevenson Welcome Awards For All Funding

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson and MP Alex Salmond have welcomed the latest announcement by Awards for All, which sees four organisations sharing over £23,000.

Awards for All Scotland is supported by the Scottish Arts Council, sportscotland and the Big Lottery Fund who award grants of between £500 and £10,000 for people to take part in art, sport, heritage and community activities, and projects that promote education, the environment and health in the local community.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is fantastic news that these organisations within the Banff and Buchan constituency have been successful.

“The money awarded will help in a wide variety of ways and will ensure that the successful organisations will go from strength to strength providing value to the communities they serve."

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond added:

“I would urge other organisations in Banff & Buchan to apply for similar award schemes, the benefits of which can help new and existing projects alike.

“Once again, our congratulations go to the successful organisations on such welcome news.”

Note: The local awards are:

£2,963 1295 (Peterhead) Squadron Air Training Corps
£9,200 Banff & Macduff Christmas Lights Association
£9,917 Ladies B4 Lunch, Banff
£1,018 Portsoy Out of School Club

19 December 2009

Copenhagen A Tiptoe Forward When World Needed Giant Leap

PEOPLE POWER CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE AS FOCUS TURNS TO MEXICO

First Minister Alex Salmond today described the result of the Copenhagen climate change summit as a missed opportunity in the ongoing battle to counter global climate change.

Mr Salmond said: "Copenhagen was a tiptoe forward when what the world required was a giant leap.

"Recognition of a non-binding accord is a long way from a legally binding agreement, and in that sense the summit has exposed a failure of leadership when faced with a great global challenge.

"The task is now to ensure that Copenhagen represents only a missed opportunity and not the last opportunity, and to inject the urgency that is needed will require people power and mobilisation of concern to bring the political leaders on board for a binding agreement in Mexico next year."

Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson added:

"Scotland can hold its head up high, not just at having the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world, but at having the determination to implement our targets and, in our new agreement with the Maldives, demonstrating a commitment to reach out to the countries at the sharp end of climate chaos and in the interests of climate justice.

"There will be widespread disappointment at the lack of progress in Copenhagen, but instead people internationally should turn to focus on the COP 16 summit next year in Mexico, to turn an accord into a binding agreement. We now have to turn to people power after the faltering accord at Copenhagen.

"It is noticeable that those progressive politicians in Copenhagen were those representing nations, cities and territories who were all prepared to make the binding commitment that state leaders failed to agree. It seems that with climate change the closer politicians are to the people the more willing they are to act."

17 December 2009

Dunbar passengers on track for more new services

Passengers travelling to and from Dunbar are set to receive a boost next year with the planned introduction of additional services connecting the town with Edinburgh.

Transport Scotland is working with ScotRail to introduce new Monday-Friday services from May 2010.

Under the proposal, which is subject to confirmation under standard industry procedures, passengers would be able to travel to Dunbar from Edinburgh at 1000 and 1421, and in the opposite direction at 1057 and 1504. A late evening service from Edinburgh to Dunbar would run at 2200 or later Monday to Thursday.

From December 2010, ScotRail is expected to also begin running the 2304 Edinburgh to Dunbar on a Friday.

Transport Scotland is negotiating the introduction of all of the new services as part of the deal to extend the ScotRail franchise with FirstGroup, which was signed in April 2008.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said: "More people are switching to more sustainable modes of transport and these new services would provide further opportunities for passengers to travel between Edinburgh and Dunbar by rail.

“We are working hard to ensure communities along the east coast and across Scotland can benefit from access to the rail network and are investing significantly in extending services – both in terms of expanding infrastructure and plugging gaps in the timetable.

“We are seeking to confirm this option which will enable ScotRail to operate these additional services during the week and will open the door to other potential service improvements in the future.”

ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “Our commitment to improving rail travel opportunities between East Lothian and the capital is well known. We very much hope to be in a position to welcome people on board these planned new ScotRail services.”

A joint Transport Scotland and ScotRail study of the benefits of an hourly Dunbar to Edinburgh service will be undertaken in the near future, and will also consider options between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

The feasibility study will consider services from Edinburgh to Newcastle, Edinburgh to Berwick and the possibility of new stations at East Linton and Reston. The study is expected to take no more than a year to complete and ScotRail will appoint consultants to undertake the study in the near future.

'All go' for £6.5 million A75 road scheme

A £6.5 million project to improve access to and from Scotland’s vital west coast ports has moved a step closer with the selection of the contractor to build the 2.3km A75 Cairntop to Barlae scheme.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson today announced that RJ Macleod will build the Transport Scotland funded project, which will deliver a 2.3km stretch of dual carriageway in each direction on one of the main trunk roads serving Stranraer and Cairnryan ferry ports.

Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson said:

"The selection of the contractor to build this scheme is good news for all road users who use this route and is yet another example of our continuing investment in Scotland’s transport infrastructure.

"The Scottish Government has recently invested £29m on improvements to the both A77 and A75 trunk roads and has earmarked a further £60m of planned investment in eight projects which will develop both routes further.

"The A75 is a vital artery to and from our ferry ports in the south west of Scotland and this new contract award - which will support 30 jobs during construction - will provide extra overtaking opportunities and improve traffic flow along the length of road. This will have substantial benefits for all traffic – in particular freight and tourists.

"I’m delighted to announce the selection of the contractor and that the project will soon be moving to construction. Our commitment to improved links across Scotland is clear and the undoubted benefits to be reaped will be felt by communities and businesses along the route and beyond."

The scheme will see a new eastbound carriageway constructed, utilising the line of a dismantled railway line. The existing A75 carriageway will subsequently become the new westbound carriageway.

Works on the A75 Cairntop-Barlae scheme are expected to begin early in the new year.

14 December 2009

Over 2000 New Council Homes for Scotland

Over 2000 new council houses are to be built across Scotland after record funding from the SNP Government. Commenting on the news, local MSP Mr Stewart Stevenson said:


"I have been heartened by the manner in which local authorities across the country have worked with this Government to reverse decades of decline in council house building.

"Increasing council house building will add to the record number of affordable homes being built across Scotland this year, which helps keep the economy moving by safeguarding jobs and supporting the construction industry.

"Council homes can be the first step on the housing ladder for many people and offer security for others. With the end of right to buy for new build housing and new tenancies we know that investment in new housing now, will last long into the future."

13 December 2009

Scotland Day in Copenhagen

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT TO MAKE ITS MARK AT WORLD CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT

The Scottish Government will set out its world-leading approach to tackling climate change tomorrow (Monday) as the crucial second week of negotiations at the Copenhagen summit begins.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson will be in Copenhagen this week to promote Scotland’s world-leading climate change targets and to press for a similarly ambitious global agreement at the United Nation Climate Change Conference.

Stewart Stevenson will deliver a keynote speech during a day of events and discussions focusing on Scotland’s contribution to the global debate. A key contributor will be Mary Robinson, former UN Human Rights Commissioner, who will call on governments to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding deal in Denmark.

On Tuesday, the First Minister will sign a joint-statement with The Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, which will outline plans to work together to combat the global threat of climate change. This meeting will form a partnership between Scotland - a leader in international best practice on climate change - and The Maldives, which is one of the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels through global warming.

Speaking on the eve of Scotland’s Low Carbon Mission, Mr Stevenson said:

“The eyes of the world are now on Copenhagen in the hope of an agreement for real action on climate change being achieved. The Scottish Government has already taken the lead with our ambitious Climate Change (Scotland) Act to cut emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and we are continuing to demonstrate that leadership to world leaders by being here at this vital UN summit, where our strong example can inspire other nations to equally ambitious action.”

“Legislation alone won’t bring about the move to a low carbon economy and therefore this Government is taking action which will lead to real changes in everyday actions. Scotland’s Low Carbon Emission event at Copenhagen will draw on the support of businesses; the public sector; voluntary and community groups; and civic society, including the conference on human rights and climate justice held in Glasgow last month.

“Across the developed world, we need a cohesive approach to tackling climate change and I like many others from around the world want to see real progress being made this week.”

Mary Robinson, former UN Human Rights Commissioner, said: “Climate change poses a significant threat to human rights, development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Countries least responsible for causing climate change are suffering most from its impacts. A climate justice approach compels us to share burdens fairly and ensure that polluters pay. We must hold governments accountable for a fair, ambitious and binding deal in Copenhagen and support those governments who are making substantial commitments to cut emissions.”

The Low Carbon Mission will also include addresses from key representatives from Scottish society, as well as leading speakers on climate change.

Paul Docherty, Director of the British Council Scotland, said: “Climate change remains an important concern for young people in Scotland. As an international organisation, we believe it is important to support young people to make a real difference at a local level and are pleased to be working alongside our partners the Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh. Copenhagen is now an opportunity for our Climate Champions to take their message to the heart of the debate and make their voices heard at the top table.”

Background

Participants include Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of Scottish and Southern Energy and head of the newly-formed 2020 Climate Change group; Jane Wood, Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community; Professor Alan Miller, Chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission; Duncan McLaren of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland; Ibnu Najib, British Council Climate Advocate, Indonesia; Dr Conor Snowden, Senior Climate Change Adviser, British Council; Duncan Botting, Executive Chairman, Scottish European Green Energy Centre; Paul Lewis of Scottish Enterprise, Boudewijm Poelmaan, Chief Executive of People’s Postcode Lottery; Prof James Curran of SEPA.

See the programme at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange

The Low Carbon Mission will be taking place in the Mogens Dahl Koncertsal, Snorresgade 22, DK 2300 KĂžbenhavn S, tel. +45 70 23 00 82

11 December 2009

MSP Praises First Class Postal Effort

A special visitor has delivered some Christmas spirit to Banffshire's army of postal workers during thei busiest time of the year.

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson turned up on an early-morning visit with a real winter warmer  - a bottle of Scottish Parliament whisky.

But while the hard-working mem and women of the Royal Mail could be forgiven for enjoying a dram during a well-earned rest, not a drop touched their lips.

Staff at the Banff delivery office will instead use te gift from Mr Stevenson to raise money for charity.

Mr Stevenson popped into the office early on Friday morning to pass on his encouragement to the postal workers as they battle with huge sacks of Chistmas mail.

He was shown round by delivery office manager Ian Jackson, and met the men and women who have the task of getting the huge volumes of additional mail through letterboxes.

Mr Jackson said:

"Christmas is the busiest time of the year. Our people do really pull out all the stops throughout the year to ensure mail is delivered quickly, but even more so over the busy festive period, so we were pleased that Mr Stevenson came along to witness the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

"The postal staff do a fantastic job at this time of year to ensure that friends and families stay in touch through their Christmas greetings and gifts.

"And as usual, we urge our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings."

Although no figures are available solely for the Banffshire area, Royal Mail believes that the Christmas post bag across Scotland this year will amount to 200 milllion items.

Mr Stevenson said:

"It was great to meet the hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women at Banff delivery office and to see at first hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.

"Posties do such an important job at this time of year and I like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period."

10 December 2009

Minister's Mandate to Talk Climate Change

STEWART STEVENSON GIVEN BACKING OF PARLIAMENT TO STATE SCOTLAND'S CASE.


Scotland's climate change minister has been given the full support of parliament to take Scotland's emissions targets to Copenhagen to inspire the rest of the world to take action.

The Minister told a parliamentary debate on climate change today that Scotland's ambitious targets sent a message to the rest of the world that the nation is committed to deliver on emissions reductions and has already begun to make significant progress. He said:

"We are a nation with a record of supporting others in their development which is why we are taking the Scottish example to Copenhagen - to lead and inspire others to action. Legislation alone won't bring about the move to a low carbon economy and therefore this Government is taking action which will lead to real changes in everyday actions: by businesses; the public sector; voluntary and community groups; and individuals.

As further evidence of Scotland's commitment to respond to our global responsibilities on climate change, the Minister also announced that the Scottish Government will be establishing a number of Fellowships to allow talented individuals from Commonwealth countries to come to Scotland to share in our cutting edge knowledge on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The 2014 Climate Change Saltire Fellowships will fulfil a commitment made as part of the Commonwealth Games bid to set up a carbon emissions reduction fund.

The Minister said:

"The Fellowships will be targeted at climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in Commonwealth countries, particularly those least able to deal with the impacts of climate change. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to assist Commonwealth countries through transferring relevant expertise in knowledge and skills transfer in areas where Scotland is strong, such as carbon capture and storage and community action on climate change.

The Fellowships will bring direct and lasting benefits to Commonwealth countries through reducing emissions or assisting adaptation in a way that best meets local circumstances and there will also be benefits to the Scottish economy and to the economies of Commonwealth countries through the exchange and application of climate change knowledge."

The Minister also announced a new alliance to progress the work being done on low carbon development. He said that a range of Scottish organisations from across industry, government, academia and civil society are to join together to co-operate with the efforts of the UK and the EU in establishing this global framework for low carbon energy supplies.

Mr Stevenson said:

"This partnership will work together to support these international efforts through offering expertise and capacity and to pull together packages for funding support where necessary. Assuming that the UNFCCC process is able to agree a legal and financial framework for low carbon mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries during 2010, this Scottish partnership stands ready to work with the UK and our European and global partners on a series of practical actions to deliver on this."

Borders Railway tender process commences

The process of identifying the contractor who will build and maintain the new rail link to the Borders is now under way.

The notice for the construction has been submitted for publication in the Official Journal of European Union (OJEU) by Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government agency in charge of the scheme.

The milestone has been reached in a project which forms a key part of a programme of investment in Scotland’s road and rail networks which will help promote the Scottish Government’s objective of sustainable economic growth.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson said.

“The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to this key part of our programme of investment - we are now delivering on that commitment.

“A fast, efficient rail link connecting communities from the Scottish Borders to Midlothian and Edinburgh will act as a catalyst for economic growth right across southern Scotland, supporting hundreds of jobs during its construction. And a new link will increase business development and housing opportunities, and help promote inward investment.

“I will be stating Scotland’s case on climate change at Copenhagen next week and a rail link through the Scottish Borders to Edinburgh will also help us meet our commitments to the environment. The link will contribute to Scotland’s reduction in carbon emissions whilst providing opportunities to make the switch from car to train. This will help tackle congestion along the A7 and A68, in turn reducing the number of road accidents on those routes.

“We’re determined to deliver this project for people throughout Midlothian and the Scottish Borders and I’m delighted that we’re on track to open up those regions to rail passengers again for the first time in over forty years.”

All the required land has been acquired to allow construction of the railway. Accelerated funding was made available last year to allow advanced works to be completed early to reduce the level of risk in the main works contract.

It is anticipated that the construction contract will be awarded in Autumn 2011.

Stevenson Disappointed by Lack of Accelerated Capital Spending for Peterhead

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his frustration at the UK Government’s refusal to accelerate capital spending and the impact it will have on Peterhead. Accelerated capital spending last year was a vital part of the economic stimulus needed to combat the recession, but the UK Government has refused to repeat the measure this year despite stimulus packages continuing in other countries.

Accelerated capital spending this year could have allowed work to begin on the £2.2 million Peterhead Energy Industry Park, as identified by First Minister Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions today (Thursday), and funded the construction of social housing and other projects across Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is extremely disappointing that the UK Government has chosen to put the prospect of economic recovery at risk through their refusal to accelerate capital spending. The UK Government’s failures risk prolonging the recession and continuing to hurt hard working families that are struggling to cope.

“It is particularly frustrating for people in Peterhead given that they could have directly benefited from having the funding for the Energy Industry Park available immediately.

“The UK Government’s repeated failure to take the economic measures that are needed for Scotland’s recovery only serve to underline the pressing need for Scotland to take control of our own financial decisions. With too many households facing economic hardship, Scotland cannot afford anything less.”

9 December 2009

Transport Minister launches hybrid Mobile Travel Centre

Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson yesterday (Tuesday 8 December) launched the new hybrid Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) Mobile Travel Centre at the Scottish Parliament.

The vehicle - owned and operated by SPT - is the first of its kind in the UK and demonstrates the organisation's commitment to leading the way in hybrid bus technology with anticipated 33% fuel savings. Carbon dioxide emissions will also be reduced by at least a third.

Launching the new vehicle, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said: "I'm delighted to launch this new Mobile travel centre, the first of its kind in the UK. This is a hugely positive initiative, which not only utilises the latest green technology in the bus industry, but also promotes public transport as an alternative to the car to local communities in Glasgow and the west.

"If we are going to achieve our ambitious climate change targets, we need to cut emissions from transport and projects such as this can make an important contribution to these efforts."

Built around a bus chassis, the new £205,000 Mobile Travel Centre is powered by diesel hybrid technology. This means that while it still has a diesel engine, this is only used to charge the electric batteries that drive the vehicle. The batteries are also used to provide power within the vehicle, making electrical appliances such as computers and TVs self-sufficient.

The Mobile Travel Centre is one of SPT's most popular initiatives. It provides people in rural areas with information on local rail and bus services, express and long distance coach services, short stay breaks and local ferry services - helping to Join up Journeys across various transport modes.

David Fagan, Vice Chair of SPT, said: "We're delighted to have the Transport Minister launch our new Mobile Travel Centre at the home of Scottish politics. SPT is proud to lead the way for hybrid bus technology and we hope this will encourage commercial operators to trial this type of vehicle.

"We have worked very hard to ensure the vehicle is as green as possible with optimum fuel efficiency and a minimum carbon footprint. The Mobile Travel Centre is an important means of providing remote and inaccessible communities with access to public transport information, so it's vital that we have the best possible vehicle."

The new vehicle is more adaptable for easier access to remote rural communities, and is low-floored to better suit wheelchair users, those with impaired mobility and prams. It also offers high-speed broadband internet use.

A feasibility study commissioned by SPT has shown that the diesel-hybrid technology used on the Mobile Travel Centre can reduce fuel consumption by up to 33%, carbon dioxide emissions by 33%, nitrogen oxide by 38%, and hydrocarbon by 99%.

The launch of the new vehicle also means that for the first time visitors to the Mobile Travel Centre will be able to purchase SPT tickets on board.

The new Mobile Travel Centre is due to go into service in the new year.

7 December 2009

Stevenson Guest at Carers' Rights Day Event

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson attended the Carers’ event organised by North Aberdeenshire VSA at the Royal British Legion Hall at Turriff last week.


Commenting, Mr Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted that this event has been arranged and I am pleased to be taking part. Carers deserve our recognition for the work which they do and there will be a range of agencies present on the day to provide advice and assistance to ensure that carers are getting all the help which is rightfully theirs.

“Many people don’t get the support they need because they don’t recognise the caring role they have. If you regularly provide or intend to provide care, you need to find out about the help available. The benefits system is complicated and finding out what you are entitled to can be difficult. Claiming benefits usually involves filling out forms. Try not to let this put you off. A local Independent Citizens' Advice Bureau, disability organisation or an Age Concern branch should be able to help you with the forms. The Pension Service (Freephone: 0800 99 1234) should also be able to help you with more information about benefits and completing the claim forms.

“Remember, even if you’re not entitled to claim benefits there is a range of other ways in which you get help with being a carer, such as equipment, practical help and getting access to a break.”

Package of works to improve A96 traffic in Elgin unveiled

A series of measures to improve congestion on the A96 through Elgin have been drawn up by Transport Scotland, BEAR Scotland Ltd and The Moray Council.

Road users travelling on the A96 trunk road regularly face delays when driving through Elgin, as the road passes through the town centre which is already heavily populated with local traffic.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has met with The Moray Council on a number of occasions to discuss how the bottlenecks in Elgin could be resolved.

Following these meetings, Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland Ltd have developed a package of improvements in association with The Moray Council to ease congestion and improve journey times through the town.

Structural carriageway maintenance of the A96 between Wittet Drive and Oakwood, including resurfacing and improved pedestrian facilities, is already under way.

Other measures planned to be implemented this financial year include:

Removing the splitter island at the A96 near the roundabout at the Tesco superstore and improving road lining on approaches to the roundabout

A consistent 30mph speed limit along the A96 through the town

Banning right turns into North Street

Enforcement of the right turn ban into Ladyhill car park

Installation of a 'toucan' style cycle crossing at Alexandra Road between the roundabouts near Tesco and Halfords

Better use of local roads – such as Reiket Lane for road users travelling south from the east, and Morriston Road for those in the north-west – is also proposed to channel traffic away from the town centre.

Stewart Stevenson said:

"Elgin is one of the key economic drivers in Moray and it is vital the town is served by a safe and reliable transport network.

"Improving accessibility and connectivity to the town will support the economic growth of the whole region and it is important we resolve the conflict between local and through traffic in Elgin.

"I am sure the people of Elgin will welcome Transport Scotland, BEAR Scotland Ltd and The Moray Council working together to resolve these challenges for the benefit of all road users.

"I’m confident road users will see a big difference in a short space of time once this programme of work has been implemented."

Further works to improve the A96 at Morriston Road, North Street, Linkwood Way and Alexandra Road, and the A941 at Lesmurdie Road have also been identified and will be considered as part of both Transport Scotland and The Moray Council’s investment plans.

Councillor John Russell, chairman of Moray Council’s economic development and infrastructure services committee, said:

"Thanks to the Minister for getting all parties together to focus on Elgin’s traffic problems.

"This has involved agreement on baseline traffic data and study of the perceived problem areas along the A96 and A941.

"None of the areas identified for improvement will come as any surprise to motorists travelling in and through Elgin. What is important is that we have reached a common understanding with Transport Scotland about the key areas that need to be addressed.

"Now Moray Council, BEAR and Transport Scotland face common challenges in delivering the agreed improvements within a reasonable timescale."

The resurfacing works at Morriston Road being undertaken by trunk road operating company BEAR Scotland include a carbon management pilot scheme which will measure the materials, energy and waste generated by the project as a whole.

The pilot project seeks to pre-empt the requirements of the Scottish Climate Change Bill for transport bodies to report on the carbon impacts of their operations and activities.

Eddie Ross, Consultancy Manager for BEAR Scotland said:

"Inclusion of this carbon management project underlines our commitment and that of Transport Scotland to tackling the issues of Climate Change and sustainability.

"This will help us to determine methods of introducing real reductions in carbon usage during future construction projects."

The work in Elgin comes in the wake of the appointment of the contractor to construct the Fochabers-Mosstodloch bypass on the A96. Transport Scotland will award the £31.5 million contract to Morrison Construction to build a new 5km stretch of all-purpose single carriageway on the A96, demonstrating the Scottish Government’s commitment to the route.

The A96 is used by around 18,000 motorists each day.

4 December 2009

Climate Change Minister to take world-leading legislation to summit

SCOTLAND'S COUNTDOWN TO COPENHAGEN

Climate Change minister Stewart Stevenson is taking the Low Carbon Mission, a world-class event on Scotland's world-leading climate change framework, to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen next week.

As the world turns its gaze on the deal-making talks this week, Mr Stevenson said it was only right that Scotland, with its world-leading Climate Change Act, should be represented at the summit to set an example to the rest of the world.

Mr Stevenson said: “It is only right and proper that Scotland should be setting out our ambitions on the world stage given that our legislation is the most comprehensive anywhere in the world.

“The eyes of the world are now on Copenhagen in the hope of an agreement for real action on climate change being achieved. The Scottish Government has already taken the lead with our ambitious legislation to cut emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and we are continuing to demonstrate that leadership to world leaders by being at this crucial UN summit, where our strong example can inspire other nations to equally ambitious action.”

“The Scottish Government recognises the urgency of addressing climate change and is an active partner in the common desire to identify solutions, work towards adaptation and create a sustainable future.”

Although the UK Government has refused to include a Scottish Minister in its official delegation, the Scottish Government will be travelling to the Danish capital to stage its Low Carbon Mission event, with Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, and Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, among the key speakers.

The Minister said: “Legislation alone won't bring about the move to a low carbon economy and therefore this Government is taking action which will lead to real changes in everyday actions: by businesses; the public sector; voluntary and community groups; and individuals.

“Across the developed world, we need a cohesive approach to tackling climate change and I, like many others from around the world, want to see real progress being made in these two weeks.”

Background

The Low Carbon Mission will be taking place on 14 December in the Mogens Dahl Koncertsal in Copenhagen.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/international-action/Copenhagen

For information on Scotland's Action on Climate Change:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/scotlands-action

3 December 2009

Shotts in the arm for Glasgow-Edinburgh rail services

Rail passengers across Lanarkshire and the Lothians are set to benefit from a significant improvement in the service linking Glasgow with Edinburgh via Shotts, with journey times slashed by up to 33 minutes.

As part of the new winter timetable announced by Transport Scotland, a new hourly service will commence on Monday, December 14, more than doubling the number of journeys on the route.

Operated by ScotRail, the new service will stop at Bellshill, Shotts, West Calder, Livingston South and Haymarket, offering a journey time between Glasgow Central and Waverley of 63 minutes, compared to 96 minutes at present.

This new service will run between the current hourly all stops service and reduces the need for Lanarkshire passengers heading for Edinburgh to travel via Glasgow.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson
said:

"The new timetable will offer quicker journeys, extra evening services and a more regular departure pattern, delivering major improvements for passengers across Lanarkshire and the Lothians.

"We have worked hard to ensure communities across central Scotland can benefit from access to the rail network and these new services deliver a good balance between connectivity and journey times.

"These new services demonstrate we are committed to helping more people make the switch away from the private car to more sustainable modes of transport."

The service is the first in an ambitious package of improvements between Glasgow and Edinburgh, as identified in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review.

Journey times will also be cut between the principal stations on the route to both Glasgow and Edinburgh and additional services will operate in the evening in both directions, offering a more regular service for passengers.

The new services mean 58 train journeys on the Shotts line linking Edinburgh and Glasgow Central compared to the existing 28.

Steve Montgomery, ScotRail’s managing director, said:

"I welcome these increases to services. The enhancements will bring many benefits to our growing number of customers."

1 December 2009

£3m contract awarded for improvements to Skye's A87

The A87 at An Coileach is to benefit from £3m of essential road maintenance, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson announced today.

The contract award by Transport Scotland to RJ MacLeod will see reconstruction of the road to strengthen and widen 2.7km of the A87, from Abhainn Ceann Bridge through Sconser to the junction at Kingdom Hall.

Mr Stevenson said:

"I am pleased to announce the award of this contract on a key route connecting Skye to mainland Scotland.

"This £3m investment confirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to maintain our national infrastructure, and these works to the A87 will improve road conditions and road safety for both Skye’s communities and visitors."

It is expected that the programme of works will begin in January 2010 with a construction period of approximately 12 weeks. The stretch of road, which averages over 2,200 journeys on it per day, was identified for work as it is reaching the end of its expected life service.
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