BRINGING in new laws to lower speed limits in Fife to 20mph would be a waste of money and make little difference to road safety.

That’s Fife Council’s view of a proposed Scottish Parliament bill to slow traffic down across the country.

While supportive of the intention, they said it could cost £4 million to implement in the Kingdom and cover roads that already had the lower speed limit.

Ken Gourlay, the council’s head of assets, transportation and environment, said: “These significant costs will result in no difference to the general road environment in Fife as a self-enforcing 20mph speed limit approach is already in place and operating effectively.”

The council has been asked to respond to the proposed Restricted Roads (20mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill.

The aim is to reduce the general speed limit on restricted roads – generally street-lit urban or residential roads, not A and B class roads – from 30mph to 20mph.

It’s still in the consultation stage but, as it stands, there are concerns.

The report by Mr Gourlay, to go before the economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee on January 10, said the Scottish Government “significantly underestimates” the likely cost for Fife.

He said: “The bill would introduce a general speed limit on restricted roads across Scotland of 20mph, a speed limit that is already in place on the majority of these roads in Fife.

“There would be significant cost implications for Fife Council in removing the 20mph repeater signs and markings on roads with a 20mph speed limit currently and also a large cost and workload to introduce new Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs), 30mph repeater signs and markings on roads which are to remain at 30mph and currently do not require these.

“Whilst the aims of the bill are sound, the significant costs incurred will not result in any noticeable change to Fife roads.”

One of the council’s main points is that they have already carried out the work, having “been at the forefront of introducing 20mph zones in residential areas” since 2003.

Up to 2014, there were 499 zones put in place in Fife.

All of them have a TRO in place, allowing the limit to be enforced by the police, at a cost, which includes legal orders, physical works and traffic-calming features, of £8.7m.

An evaluation of the results in January 2016 showed that road safety had improved as a result, with a “substantially reduced” traffic speed in the 20mph zones and less crashes.

Mr Gourlay added that, where crashes did occur, the severity of the injuries had also reduced.

All new housing estates in Fife are required to have a 20mph internal road network and he said: “The introduction of 20mph zones has successfully resulted in a perceived increase in quality of life by making residential areas feel safer and more pleasant to walk and cycle.”

He added: “In summary, due to the successful phased introduction of 20mph zones across Fife since 2003, Fife has already achieved most of the benefits of this policy approach.”

The report also stated that the bill had the “potential to create an inconsistency in terms of speed limit signage” and the proposed government marketing and awareness campaign wouldn’t be enough.

Mr Gourlay said: “Previous work in Fife has shown that simply changing the speed limit is not sufficient to alter driver behaviour significantly and investment in the application of appropriate traffic-calming features is required to deliver lower speeds.”