26 August 2021

Infrastructure Services Committee August round-up

During its meeting on Thursday, August 19, Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee discussed a speeding issue in Blackburn, the forthcoming Tour of Britain and a review of its Household Recycling Centres.

Aberdeenshire Bothy project
The committee was first given an update on the important work of the Aberdeenshire Bothy project provided by Cycling UK on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council. The project has focused on the five Integrated Travel Towns in Aberdeenshire and among its aims are breaking down the barriers to walking, cycling and wheeling and improving confidence among all ages. The Bothy delivers 1-to-1 sessions, Better Biking group sessions and buddy rides and has also  hosted a number of active travel events and activities this year. It is supported by a number of keen volunteers and has attracted partnership support from the likes of Live Life Aberdeenshire, Police Scotland and Home Energy Scotland. It plans to host more led walks in Ellon, Fraserburgh and Huntly in October while continuing with its delivery of Better Biking and buddy rides and a host of exciting winter activities.

Blackburn speeding - Member Promoted IssueAberdeenshire Council is to consider how to tackle the widespread problem of speeding traffic across the North-east along with partners, Police Scotland. Councillors unanimously approved a trial of a speed indication device on Blackburn’s Fintray Road after concerns were raised over traffic speeds. The decision was taken after Councillor Glen Reid raised a Member Promoted Issue raising concerns over traffic speed on Fintray Road near Badger Rise, which is an area regularly used by schoolchildren and the wider community. A traffic speed assessment found that vehicles entering Blackburn from Fintray did so at an 85th percentile of 32mph and those exiting Blackburn did so at an 85th percentile of 35mph. The council’s current policy allows for interventions where the 85th percentile speed is above 35mph within a 30mph, based on an intervention criteria of the speed limit + 10% + 2mph.
Having heard from Cllr Reid, committee chair Cllr Peter Argyle said the proposal for a speed indicator device (SID) made “perfect sense” and proposed a trial be undertaken at the location to aid consideration of any future measures. The council will also request that Police Scotland comes back to committee with a report exploring the continuing role it has to play in enforcing road traffic laws. Cllr Argyle stressed that speeding throughout Aberdeenshire communities was of serious concern and that a region-wide holistic approach was required to tackle the problem. He said the speed of some motorists in virtually every community in Aberdeenshire is a major problem and there’s barely a community council meeting which any councillor goes to where the speed of vehicles is not raised as an issue. He said the council had to find a more holistic way of looking at this issue across Aberdeenshire and in the first instance that will mean looking at the budget implications of purchasing an additional stock of speed indicator devices which can be used across the region.

Household Recycling Centres
The council’s Waste Service is to undertake a design review of the systems which are currently in place at its Household Recycling Centres including the booking system, the limit system for vans and trailers and the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system (ANPR). The review - to be completed by January next year - will consider the pros and cons of the various elements and whether they are achieving their original purpose. A review of the means available to traders to dispose of their waste lawfully and consideration of any means to improve the options available will also be undertaken. Councillors heard that while the desire to make changes in response to negative feedback is an obvious driver, there is a risk in introducing further measures, reversing existing measures or making changes in isolated areas of the HRC service and not taking time to review all aspects of operations. However some minor but important changes were introduced the HRCs in early August to improve the experience for householders as follows:

• The number of visits permitted for domestic-style pick-ups become unlimited, unless they are using a trailer - a domestic-style pick-up and trailer combination will now be permitted 24 visits per year in line with the existing trailer allowances
• The size of admissible trailers will increase from 8 feet (2.5m) to 10 feet (3)
• Car-derived van and trailer combinations will now be permitted at all centres

During discussion, some councillors commented on the negative view some users had of the booking system, however others said equally there were those who enjoyed not having to queue at an HRC and it avoided any blocking of roads in the surrounding area. There was also the suggestion of a hybrid model where bookings would remain but for a certain period of each day it was open to ad-hoc visits and a suggestion that the review could look at those people wishing to access recycling centres using bicycles with trailers. It was unanimously agreed that widespread engagement of communities was essential to ensure those who use it and those who don’t are able to feed back to the service.

Tour of Britain
The committee heard that a large multi-disciplinary team continued to make progress on plans for the final leg of the Tour of Britain on September 12. Prioritisation has been given to making this a safe event and a control and command structure has been created to oversee the event with all licences and road closures now in place. While there has been interest from businesses in terms of sponsorship, given the constraints and uncertainty around Covid, the packages involving activities such as a corporate event village, dinner and sportif will not proceed this year. However with a longer lead-in, confidence is high that there will be sponsorship for next year when the Tour sets off from Aberdeenshire. There are a number of activities currently underway aimed at younger people including flag and jersey design competitions, lesson plans for schools to encourage cycling activity and an activity tracker for younger people to undertake cycle trips and record them over any distance. There’s also a window-dressing competition for businesses with six prizes of £1,000 up for grabs across Aberdeenshire for free advertising. Although there are not as many community events as would have been hoped for, there is a cycling festival being hosted in Ballater during the Tour weekend. 

An application for a new house at land near Bogs of Durie, Clola, was rejected after councillors heard the proposal was not in accordance with the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2017. Committee heard that the available capacity had already been met by the grant of two houses within the current plan period, therefore there was no remaining capacity during the current plan period for any further houses. Planning officials also said the proposed plot would not be in keeping with the scale or character of the existing cluster of properties to which it is intended to be added and that the application had failed to demonstrate that the proposed foul and surface water cannot be secured via discharge to ground which is the preferred method rather than discharge to a watercourse.

Other Matters:

• Councillors were given an update on the work being undertaken by the Northern Roads Collaboration of which Aberdeenshire Council is a lead partner

• Committee discussed and provided comment on its consultation response to Aberdeen City Council’s proposed introduction of a Low Emissions Zone in the city centre which will limit access to vehicles failing to meet pre-set limits for emissions

• Consideration was given to the council’s draft response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Workplace Parking Licensing Regulations and Guidance. It was noted that Aberdeenshire Council will not be introducing such a scheme

• Public consultation arrangements were heard for the prioritisation of Flood Risk Management actions for Cycle 2 with the committee giving the Head of Roads, Landscape and Waste Services delegated authority to respond to SEPA’s consultation on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council

The agenda and documents for the meeting can be found here:

The full recorded webcast can be viewed here: