A PLEDGE to remove the controversial average speed cameras from the A9 if they prove ineffective has been warmly welcomed by those concerned they could have a negative impact on the economy of the north.

Transport Minister Keith Brown reportedly made the commitment at a meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses in Inverness.

Amanda Frazer, regional chairwoman of the FSB, said members were pleased by what Mr Brown said. She added: "The minister did say that the impact of the cameras would be continually assessed and agreed that, if they prove to be ineffective in improving road safety, they would be withdrawn."

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Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce said it indicated the minister was aware of the cameras' potential to damage business and tourism.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, whose Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency has the A9 running through it, said he welcomed that the Scottish Government seemed to be getting the message. "This shows the effectiveness of the Highlands speaking with a united voice on this issue."

But a spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: "Every road safety measure is subject to regular review. It will take time to assess their effectiveness but The A9 Safety Group is clear that average speed cameras are effective in saving lives."

She added: "Before and after studies of other average speed camera sites in the UK show a reduction in accidents. We firmly believe a safer and more reliable route will be more effective for business and help attract more visitors."