Huge sections of “prime agricultural land” in the north-east will be affected by one of Transport Scotland’s proposed A96 dualling routes, said a campaign group.
The A96 Action group, which is made up of more than 400 residents, has been set up to oppose the violet route, one of the two A96 dualling options on the table.
Following on from a meeting with Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, in which the group’s designs were shown to the MSP, a presentation was given to members of the public yesterday at Hogholm Farm Stables in Kintore.
The organisation presented evidence that online dualling of the road through Inverurie can be done, despite the option being taken off the table by Transport Scotland during the assessment process.
The group’s members say that their route will have a fraction of the environmental impact of the violet route, at a considerably lower cost.
The A96 Action chairwoman, Lorna Anderson, said: “Our position has been from the start that online dualling using the existing A96 corridor at Inverurie is viable and was deselected too early on grounds that we believed were highly flawed. Our design drawings, which are DMRB (design manual for roads and bridges) compliant, clearly demonstrate this.
“This option makes the best economic, environmental and common sense and we call on the Transport Secretary to ensure that this option is back on the table.”
Vice-chairman Mark Robertson made a presentation to those in attendance, where he described the option.
He said: “Neither of the two routes use existing infrastructure, they’re entirely new roads.
“Our option is only 6km in length and it uses a large amount of existing infrastructure.
“Our estimates are that there would be hundreds of acres of land taken and lost to this construction.
“Not just the road, but all the surrounding working area.
“We estimate that 22 farms would be fragmented – around 80 fields cut in half. In some cases that would impact the viability of the farm.
“There are three equestrian centres that would be affected, and might have to close, which would result in job losses and half a million pounds to the economy.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The design work for the challenging east of Huntly to Aberdeen scheme is well under way.
“Having let local residents see and comment on the initial options last October, we held further engagement events in May for the remaining options being taken forward to the next stage of design and over 1,300 people took the opportunity to come along and view the material with approximately 800 written responses received.
“All feedback received is vital, including that from the A96 Action Group, and will be taken into consideration as we look to identify a preferred option for the scheme”