Mixed reaction to bypass ruling
Legal challenge to 28-mile bypass around Aberdeen thrown out.
The dismissal of a legal challenge to block Aberdeen’s Western Peripheral Route has received a mixed response.
The legal challenge by Roadsense, who claimed it was not given sufficient opportunity to oppose the 28-mile bypass, was dismissed at the Court of Session on Thursday, although opponents have 21 days to lodge an appeal.
Another legal challenge from John Fraser, of Burnorrachie Farm near Netherley, who said he may be forced to sell up if the bypass is given the go-ahead, was also rejected.
A spokesman from Roadsense said: “This is a step in the wrong direction for justice and people's right to challenge developments. The planning system is supposed to open up democratic opportunities for people to raise difficult questions about developments.
"This is an example of people's right to be heard being restricted and concerns about a controversial new development being stifled.”
The Green Party also described the decision as a “body blow to North-east communities”.
Patrick Harvie MSP said: "Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have been desperate for decades for a real answer to the region's transport problems, a solution based on Crossrail and other investment in public transport.
"Those vital projects have gone nowhere, though, and instead Ministers are imposing a development corridor that will lead to even worse congestion in and around the city.
Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "This massive new road project was always going to be pushed through regardless.
"The Public Local Inquiry into the road was nobbled by Scottish Ministers, and the whole sorry planning process has been poorly handled from the start, hence the need for the legal challenge in the first place. Objectors have been ignored, local communities brushed aside, and common sense has been nowhere to be seen.”
The Woodlands Trust Scotland said the bypass decision was a “death sentence for Scotland’s ancient woodland”.
Campaigns officer Christina Byrne added: “This was the last chance for the authorities to halt the continual erosion of our natural environment, by putting a stop to the building of the bypass. The government and planning authorities have failed in their duty to protect trees, and areas of woodland where they have natural heritage value.”
However the decision delighted supporters who said the bypass will make a massive impact in reducing traffic congestion around Aberdeen.
Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart said it was “excellent news for Aberdeen and the North-east”.
He said: “The AWPR is a vital infrastructure link for the North-east and for Scotland as a whole.
“Getting the go ahead for this road will boost the economy, cut congestion and improve links across the region.
“Aberdeen has been waiting since 1948 for this road. The Labour/Lib Dem administration dragged their feet and for the last few years objectors have dragged Aberdeen through the courts. We now need to get down to work as soon as possible."
Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Maureen Watt also welcomed the decision, adding: “The selfish actions of a handful of protesters have been the only thing holding back this much required piece of infrastructure which has been needed in the region for decades. Now that their legal action has been rejected, I strongly urge the objectors to do the right thing and bring their protests to an end.”
Aberdeen City Council Chief Executive Valerie Watts said: “The Court of Session ruling will, I hope, mark the end of the long debate on whether the road should go ahead and mark the start of this crucial route becoming a reality.
“It is a key part of the City and Shire’s Structure Plan, linking up major roads and opening up a huge amount of development potential. With the road in place, our already buoyant economy will continue to grow and prosper and contribute to the wellbeing of all our citizens for many years to come.”
Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Callum McCaig said: “This legal decision is excellent news for the whole of the North-east and should pave the way for work to finally begin on what is the single most important piece of infrastructure for the region.
“The road will transform our transportation system, make journeys into Aberdeen City and Shire quicker and easier, encourage business growth, and boost the local and the Scottish economy as a whole.
“The vast majority of North-east people want to see this scheme happen. It has now been the focus of exhaustive public debate for many years and I would appeal to the minority who are opposed to it to mount no further appeals and to let the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route go ahead.”
Aberdeen Airport managing director Derek Provan said: “The AWPR, once open will make a dramatic improvement to the airport, to our passengers and to visitors to the north-east of Scotland. Surface access issues are among our greatest concern and the building of this vital piece of infrastructure will further enhance the economic growth of the area.”
- What are your thoughts on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route ruling? Do you think the bypass will be a boost to the city? Or are you concerned by the cost or environmental impact of the ring-road? Share your thoughts below or on the STV Aberdeen City Facebook page.