AN almighty row is brewing in Edinburgh after a Holyrood committee called for a rethink on plans to introduce 20mph zones on restricted roads across Scotland.

The majority of MSPs on Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee said they would not recommend approval of the tougher speed limits put forward by Green MSP Mark Ruskell.

But Green MSP John Finnie, the SNP’s John Mason and Labour’s Colin Smyth all dissented from the final report.

Ruskell said those MSPs who had not dissented had put the “motoring lobby ahead of child safety”.

The proposed Bill would see the default speed limit on restricted roads – generally residential streets and minor roads – reduced from 30mph to 20mph.

In their final report, published today, the Committee said they supported the aims but not the “one-size-fits-all” approach.

They also criticised cost implications and said the backers of the Bill had not considered the financial impact on local authorities.

MSPs also said the cost of an awareness campaign after the implementation of the zones would be significantly higher than what has been estimated.

The Committee heard conflicting evidence as to what the implementation time of the new laws would be.

While the Bill estimated an 18-month implementation period, one local authority said that it could be closer to 10 years, unless “additional resources were provided to help with implementation”.

The National: Committee chair and Tory MSP Bill Mountain criticised the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of the BillCommittee chair and Tory MSP Bill Mountain criticised the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of the Bill

Committee chair Edward Mountain said that “after considering extensive evidence, the committee has concluded that the introduction of 20mph speed limits on all restricted roads in Scotland in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not the most effective way of achieving those objectives.

“The committee is of the view that local authorities should have the flexibility to decide where new 20mph zones would be most effective and appropriate for their areas.”

Mountain added: “Additionally, the committee agreed that the estimated costs and savings of implementing a Scotland-wide change were not robust. However, the committee members believe that if more 20mph zones are to be introduced in Scotland, it must be made easier for local authorities to do so. This could include simplifying the legal process of changing a 30mph zone to a 20mph zone, which at present is cumbersome and resource-intensive.”

Ruskell hit out at the MSPs who supported the kiboshing of his Bill: “The LibDems and SNP have signed up to a Tory report that puts the motoring lobby ahead of child safety.

“I know that there is disquiet about this among some SNP backbenchers, and I hope that the First Minister will listen to them and the local councils and health, children’s and environmental organisations that are backing the Bill.”

He added: “Every child in Scotland deserves to live in a street with a safe speed limit. At the moment that’s a postcode lottery.

“Reducing the default speed limit to 20mph in built-up areas is the simplest, quickest and cheapest way to save lives, make our streets safer and encourage more people to walk and cycle more.

“The report objects to the proposal on the grounds that I’m calling for a blanket approach, but all default speed limits are ‘blanket’, including the current 30mph limit. My Bill allows councils to choose which roads they wish to retain as 30mph while seeing residential areas automatically drop to a safer limit of 20mph.”

MSPs will vote on the Bill next month.