Anyone who lives in or has to drive through Aberdeen knows how congested the city is. The main Edinburgh – Fraserburgh trunk road is routed along Anderson Drive, built in the 1940s, and every single car and lorry heading from the north to the south, and vice versa, has to stop for no fewer than 14 roundabouts, not to mention the umpteen sets of traffic lights also dotted along the road. Every one of those vehicles belches out fumes, when they should be zipping along a 21st century road instead.
The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, planned for decades, offers a sensible solution to this problem. While it won’t solve all the congestion in Aberdeen, it will remove a huge amount of through traffic from the city’s streets, making things much more pleasant for the many drivers heading to places like Stonehaven, Banchory, Peterculter, Kingswells, Westhill, Inverurie, Dyce, Ellon, Peterhead, Fraserburgh and everywhere in between – as well as the people who live along the current roads and have to put up with dire traffic day in, day out.
Unfortunately, construction of the Aberdeen bypass has been held up by a group of individuals known as “Road Sense”. They oppose the building of the AWPR on the current route and argue that the public inquiry was flawed. They lodged an appeal to the Court of Session in early 2011 – paid for, it might be noted, by the taxpayer – and the court ruled in August 2011 that the public inquiry was valid, and that the scheme should go ahead.
This should have been the end of the matter – Transport Scotland should now have been in the process of appointing contractors and preparing to actually get the road built. But unfortunately, Road Sense have decided they’re not satisfied with Lord Tyre’s judgement, and have announced they are to lodge another appeal, which, apparently due to delays in the judicial system, won’t be heard until the end of 2012 at the earliest!
I don’t think anybody here would suggest that affected individuals should not have the right to democratically challenge projects such as this, but it does seem ridiculous that a small group should be able to hold up a project that the majority of locals have demanded for years, after already having had their day in court. What’s much more offensive is that, again, Road Sense is seeking to have their legal fees capped – in other words, they want you and I, the taxpayer, to cover their costs!
With every day that goes by, the costs to the North East economy grows. The Scottish Government has been forced to spend over £1 million defending their plans from Road Sense’s attack, without an inch of tarmac being laid. Businesses are put off from investing in Aberdeen due to poor infrastructure. And, on a more day-to-day basis, just think how much fuel is wasted by vehicles sitting in traffic every day! Aberdeen is trying to position itself as a 21st century city, but it struggles along with 19th century transport infrastructure.
It’s not only the AWPR that is being held up, either. Transport Scotland, quite sensibly, decided it’d be more economical to build the bypass along with the A90 Balmedie – Tipperty dualling, another much-needed local project. Vital improvements to the Haudagain roundabout are also being held up, and there was even talk of looking into the possibility of building a flyover at the dangerous Laurencekirk junction on the A90 as part of the same contract. All these projects are being held up by these protesters. The cost can be measured in economic terms, but what about in human terms? Every day, inappropriate traffic clogs up narrow city streets, where there is sadly a much higher risk of accidents than on a modern, safe, purpose-built road. Those who oppose this project should take a moment to think about that.
The purpose of Common Sense is to put pressure on Road Sense, and its chairman William Walton. It is surely the right of every taxpayer to have their money spent wisely and democratically, and the majority of people in the North East want the AWPR built, not frittered away on pointless legal challenges. While we cannot force Road Sense to drop their appeal, we can certainly make our presence known, and campaign against them receiving a single penny more of public money in legal aid. Over 14,000 folk have already signed the Roadsense – Stop the Nonsense! petition. On the other hand, it was reported in the media that fewer than 60 people turned out to the Road Sense meeting that approved their appeal action. How can it be that such a tiny minority can cause such disruption to a project supported by the vast majority?
If you have any thoughts, comments or ideas for this site, or want to help join forces against Road Sense, please leave a message in the comments section of this post, or send us an e-mail. Let’s show William Walton what the residents of Aberdeen city and shire really think of him and his nonsense.