Supreme Court judges have approved the Aberdeen bypass after several appeals on the decision by campaigner group RoadSense. The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) is an almost 30-mile route that will join the A90 between Stonehaven and Blackdog. Scottish ministers approved it in 2009 after a public consultation that RoadSense alleged was flawed. The group has been fighting to keep the £400 million route from going ahead and says this decision will end its legal challenge.
RoadSense appealed against the final route twice before, and judges rejected those as well. Group leader William Walton says that this latest decision obviously isn’t what he had anticipated or hoped for. He has maintained that the selection process for the route was flawed and that residents on the Fast Link weren’t given the best opportunity to be consulted, but the court clearly has a different view. However, he takes some comfort in that the judges view the action as legitimate.
A spokesperson for RoadSense says that its members will be disappointed with the court ruling. The proposed AWPR will devastate homes and many of their members’ livelihoods. They remain firm in their view that the road won’t provide the benefits promised. They have believed the beautiful areas surrounding Aberdeen are precious and need to be safeguarded as an amenity for everyone to enjoy, and nothing changes that. This will seemingly end their attempts to appeal the route, pending advice from their legal advisers. However, they are sure the group will continue opposing the route however it can.
First Minister Alex Salmond says that work will start immediately on the AWPR, with drilling beginning next month and an expectation it will done in 2018. The Supreme Court’s decision only rules on the north east but puts an end to five years of frustration for supporters of the project. The route and the Tipperty to Balmedie road projects are due to bring in an extra £6 billion to the local economy over the next 30 years, while creating about 14,000 jobs.
Salmond added that this is why it’s vital these long overdue infrastructure projects are delivered. The minority has delayed the AWPR and had many days in court, but they have lost each time. Now that the legal challenge has ended, their focus is moving on from these issues and making fast progress for the north east.
Barney Crockett, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, says that this ruling marks the end of a drawn-out process. They have waited years to get to this point, but they are happy the court ruled in their favour. Now they can begin making progress on a project that’s vital for the area’s economic future, as well as all of Scotland’s. They need to get started creating the traffic infrastructure in the north east so the city’s reputation is maintained and enhanced while providing a 21st century road network.
Jim Gifford, the leader of Aberdeenshire Council, welcomed the decision as well. He said estimates show that the AWPR will remove about 5% of the traffic moving through Aberdeen city centre when it’s completed. He added that MSP Lewis Macdonald called for the construction to be started before Christmas.
However, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie says this ruling is a disappointment, though the judges did recognise that the route will have a large impact on the environment. It seems taxpayers will now be spending £400 million on a system of roads that will encourage more traffic, do little to reduce congestion in the city centre and contradict the nation’s low carbon emissions targets. Aberdeen, he added, would have been better getting decent public transport.