Environmental campaigners have expressed disappointment and concern about a Scottish Parliament Committee’s refusal to back 20mph speed limits. A Bill which would change the default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph has not been recommended by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner, Gavin Thomson said,

“The REC Committee has made a really disappointing decision, which prevents our streets being made safer. This Bill would save lives. It would reduce air pollution, by making traffic flow more smoothly.

“The sensible proposals in this Bill would increase walking and cycling rates, as people would not be put off by speeding vehicles. It is horrifying that a Bill that would deliver all these benefits – and prevent deaths – is not being supported by all the members of the Committee. We need the Parliament’s MSPs to reject this report’s verdict and back this Bill when it comes before Parliament next month.

“Children growing up in our towns and cities should be able to feel safe to walk, cycle, and play in their neighbourhoods. Making drivers slow to 20mph can help to achieve friendlier, safer, and cleaner streets that will benefit other people using the road. Surveys have shown the Scottish public supports 20mph speed limits and these MSPs are clearly out of step with the public mood.”


1. Background to the 20mph “Safer Streets” Bill can be found here: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/109932.aspx

2. Friends of the Earth Scotland’s briefing on why the Bill would make streets safer and healthier: https://foe.scot/resource/friends-earth-scotland-response-proposed-restricted-roads-20mph-limit-scotland-bill/

3. The REC Committee’s report was not unanimously supported. 3 MSPs – John Mason, Colin Smyth, John Finnie – dissented from the majority view.

4. Polling released in March 2019, carried out on behalf of the Scottish Greens, revealed that speed limits of 20mph is growing in popularity with the public, from 65% support in 2017 to 72% supportive. https://foe.scot/press-release/public-support-safer-street-20mph/

5. An alliance of groups – which campaign on environment, health, transport and disability issues – had previously united to back proposals for a 20mph speed limit across Edinburgh. https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/traffic-and-travel/charities-back-plan-for-20mph-zones-in-edinburgh-1-3719306

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.