Crieff could become first Scottish town to ban idling cars

Crieff could become the first Scottish town to ban idling vehicles. Picture: MJ Richardson/Geograph
Crieff could become the first Scottish town to ban idling vehicles. Picture: MJ Richardson/Geograph
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A Perthshire town is set to introduce the one of the first bans in Scotland on idling engines.

Officials say the measure is necessary because tall buildings make the High Street in Crieff into an artificial “canyon”, funnelling the busy A85 through the town centre and trapping pollution from vehicle exhausts.

Perth and Kinross Council is considering issuing fines to motorists who let their engines idle on Crieff High Street as part of a package of measures proposed to combat long-standing air pollution problems in the busy town centre.

The market town, which has a population of 7,400, has become a hub for tourism, famous for its whisky and its history of cattle droving.

It includes the independent school Morrison’s Academy, and a fleet of buses transport pupils to the town from a wide area of the Central Belt every day.

An Air Quality Action Plan, which will go before councillors next week, proposes a study of traffic flow, a parking shake-up and new traffic control systems.

Other proposals include “gating” or holding traffic outwith the High Street “canyon”, as well as limiting or prioritising traffic turning right into the thoroughfare, will also be considered.

“Ant-idling enforcement”, if introduced quickly, could be the first of its kind in Scotland. Officials in Inverclyde decided in May to apply to the Scottish Government for permission to fine idling motorists £20 each time their offend.

To introduce the measure in Crieff, Perth and Kinross has to adopt the legislation and become a designated local authority under regulations introduced in the Scottish Parliament in 2003.

In a report, council officer Kirsty Steven said: “Perth and Kinross Council will consider the adoption of powers to undertake enforcement through Traffic Regulation Orders to compel drivers to switch off idling engines.

“Fixed penalty notices could be issued to drivers who refuse to co-operate.”

Scottish road traffic regulations enable councils to apply to the government to tackle problems with engine fumes running “unnecessarily”.

Graham Donaldson, who chairs the Crieff Success Business Improvement District board, said: “I’m not sure how effective this would be. Most modern cars these days automatically cut off when they come to a stop.

“What would really make a difference is if they found a way to move the buses off High Street, maybe down into the square.”

In her report to go before the council’s environment and infrastructure committee, Ms Steven writes: “High Street, which runs through the centre of Crieff, is a narrow street with tall buildings either side of the road. This has resulted in a canyon effect which prevents air pollutants from dispersing. The narrow road often becomes congested, particularly at peaks times throughout the day.”