East Ayrshire Council’s commitment to its policy of Clean Green Climate Change East Ayrshire was given high priority in Cabinet this week as Councillors approved a raft of green initiatives as part Ayrshire Roads Alliance's 2022/23 Roads Asset Management Plan for East Ayrshire.
The plan, which looks at all aspects of roads infrastructure in the area, included consideration of areas affected by Climate Change, such as flood risk management, while also making provisions to improve car parking, active travel corridors and environmental improvements to encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport.
In keeping with the Council’s Clean Green East Ayrshire policy of scrutinising all its work to make environmentally friendly changes where possible, the report included the intention to make a bid for UK Govt “Levelling Up” funding for the A70 from Ayr to Cumnock to improve road safety, Active Travel facilities, provide Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points and cut air pollution in Ochiltree by creating a village bypass.
With over 20k street lights, a rolling plan of replacement for the oldest lighting includes replacement of inefficient lighting with LED, which reduces energy consumption by 50-65% and pays for itself within seven and a half years of installation.
Eco-friendly lighting, lowered kerbs to help with accessibility, and spending on active travel routes for wheelchairs, pedestrians and cyclists, together with Sustrans funded street redesigns, all mark a commitment to help everyone cut car use and embrace outdoor activity and safe, sustainable travel.
In particular the East Ayrshire Active Travel Strategy and the Hurlford Street Design Project, funded by the Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone Fund has allowed identification and creation of infrastructure to make it much easier for people to cycle and walk for every day journeys including safer, more active routes to school for local pupils.
ARA has also submitted bids (subject to approval on 18 March) to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport for the following Category 1 projects in 2022
This money will help complete the ongoing extensive refurbishments at Kilmarnock Bus Station, including the refurbishment of the waiting areas, the Shopmobility Unit and pedestrian access from London Road.
This year’s work will include renovation of the stances and improved access to the Foregate South Car Park. These measures are all designed to make bus travel easier for everyone.
Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets Scotland (CWSS) has also allocated £532,000 to East Ayrshire in 2022/23. These funds will be used to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in communities all around East Ayrshire.
While so much effort is being put in to reducing emissions, work also continues on maintaining bridges, culverts and flood defences to ameliorate the effects of increased severe weather events and excessive rainfall.
Cabinet also heard an update from the ARA’s transport division. Significant progress has already been made in changing the vehicle fleet to electric vehicles in line with the target of having all the council’s cars and small vans fleet replaced by electric vehicles by the end of 2023. With 52 fossil fuel vehicles still in the small vehicle fleet, the 2023 target is on track to be met with replacement of these vehicles within the next year, to achieve the target ahead of time.
While technological advances are yet to solve some of the issues with cutting emissions from larger vehicles, ARA Transport are also looking at the possibility of switching the larger vehicles in Council fleet from diesel to Hydro Treated Vegetable Oil (HVO). This is a non-fossil fuel alternative to diesel made from sustainable vegetable oils from food waste, It can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90% compared to diesel and would make a significant impact on air quality and the council’s carbon footprint.
Kevin Braidwood, Head of ARA, also confirmed at the meeting that he is looking at Roads Decarbonisation within the service, actively investigating the use of recycled materials throughout the construction, road building and road repair system, to minimise waste and make best use of carbon friendly materials.
Commenting on the report, Andrew Kennedy, Head of Facilities and Property Management, and Project Lead on Climate Change Strategy for East Ayrshire Council said : “Since we started working on our council wide Climate Change Strategy, we’ve embedded a culture of examining the environmental implications of everything we do, looking for ways to cut emissions to help us towards our net zero targets.
“Today’s report shows just how seriously we’ve taken this, with every aspect of ARA’s report finding practical ways to improve air quality, cut emissions and improve quality of life for our residents and businesses.
“By improving our infrastructure, with better lighting, improved paths, better bus stops and stations, and the increased installation of electric vehicle charging points, and working with the Active Travel Hub and Sustrans, we can go a long way to encouraging people to change their transport habits where they can, increase active and public transport travel, and help us all cut our dependence on fossil fuels.
“We all have a role to play in combating climate change, and I welcome the efforts of the ARA team to embed that duty in every aspect of their work.”