Councillors give green light to active travel aspirations

A cycling afternoon.
Cycle routes are included in the plans.

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New plans to improve active travel routes for residents in Fort William were approved  by Lochaber councillors last week, although funding for the aspirational schemes have still to be identified.

The  report presented councillors with the updated Fort William Active Travel Masterplan, which identifies specific interventions – improvements, for example maintenance or a bridge, needed to make a route physically feasible – and estimated costs to improve active travel routes in and around the town.

These have identified prioritised action plans in each location which will serve as a framework for future investment and new development.

The identification of active travel networks enables a broad range of users, including those who walk, wheel or cycle.

Members were asked to note the recent policies that identify walking, wheeling and cycling at the top of the sustainable transport hierarchy. They also approved the use of the Fort William Active Travel Masterplan as a material consideration when dealing with development proposals and as a supporting document for funding bids.

They also agreed to delegate Highland Council’s chief executive officer for infrastructure and environment to liaise with other bodies, including Transport Scotland, with a view to identifying funding opportunities and a delivery programme to target early improvements across the Fort William active travel network.

The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan report of 2018 highlights its commitment to building an active nation and has doubled its active travel spend since 2018/19.

Richard Gerring, transport planning manager at Highland Council, said: ‘The approval by the committee means there is now a strategy in place to enable the council, Transport Scotland and others to take forward the adopted sustainable transport hierarchy now adopted within the National Transport Strategy.’

However, Mr Gerring did also state that currently there exists a ‘funding gap’ to provide any of the interventions suggested as being needed.

Fort William’s identified Active Travel Network consists of seven key routes, and the report identifies specific interventions and estimated costs to improve these routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

Route 1 – Fort William Spine Route (est. £3,768,214); Route 2 – Torlundy Spur (est. £115,092); Route 3 – Retail Park Links (est. £401,264); Route 4 – College Link (est. £380,160); Route 5 – Caol Links (est. £962,041); Route 6 – Upper Achintore Links (est. £844,632); Route 7 – Outer Orbital Route: A82 and A833 (est. £7,171,668).