Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Aberdeen bypass given green light by ministers

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The controversial Aberdeen bypass has been approved by ministers.

The Scottish government has given the project the go-ahead after considering the findings of a local inquiry.

Industry figures welcomed the decision on the £295m-£395m roads project, which is aimed at easing traffic and improving business in the north east.

But opponents have criticised the cost and the environmental impact of the 28-mile bypass. Campaign group Road Sense said it would take legal advice.

The planned bypass is aimed at providing a fast link between towns to the north, west and south of Aberdeen.

Subject to all the approvals being met, work could get under way in 2011.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "This has been a complex issue in which there has been a wide range of issues to consider.

"There has also been significant public interest in the proposed route, with clear arguments on both sides.

"Having given careful consideration to the issues and arguments, I agree with the reporters' findings and reasoning, and with their recommendation to proceed with the bypass."

He said the bypass was one of the most important infrastructure projects in the north east, bringing a range of substantial benefits to the region.

Mr Swinney said it would reduce congestion in the heart of the city as well as remove thousands of vehicles from the area's rural roads.

This is the best possible early Christmas present for residents and businesses in the north east
Brian Adam
Aberdeen North SNP MSP

Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council both welcomed the news.

Aberdeen North SNP MSP Brian Adam said it was the "best possible early Christmas present for residents and businesses in the north east".

Aberdeen Central Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald also welcomed the decision, but called for assurances about project funding, no delays, and stressed the need for better rail and bus services.

And West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said it was a "vital transport project".

Bob Collier, chief executive at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: "Democracy has now run its course and we would ask any protest groups to think very carefully before taking any action that might delay this investment which has the full support of the vast majority of local businesses and residents."

Tom Smith, chairman of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef), said: "Finally, we have the green light for the most strategic piece of infrastructure required in the region. The bypass is absolutely critical to our long-term economic future."

Councillor Kevin Stewart, chairman of regional transport partnership Nestrans, described it as a "defining moment" for the local infrastructure.

Judicial review

And Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) north east manager Ian Armstrong said it would "boost economic recovery and confidence".

However, Road Sense spokeswoman Sheona Warnock said the group was extremely disappointed at the decision and expected there would be grounds for a legal challenge, including a judicial review.

She predicted that would cause significant delays to the project.

Traffic in Aberdeen
The bypass is aimed at easing traffic and improving business

Friends of the Earth has joined Road Sense in claiming the building of the new road could mean Scotland failing to meet its climate change targets.

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "This Scottish government either doesn't understand climate change or doesn't care about it."

And Transform Scotland said the project would do nothing to address the key traffic congestion issue in Aberdeen.

The Scottish government said the country could hold its head high at having the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world, and having the determination to implement the targets.

Campaigners also recently criticised the £51m cost of moving the International School of Aberdeen to make way for the road.

A long-running public inquiry was held in Aberdeen last year. The Scottish Government said the probe was necessary because of the public response.



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SEE ALSO
Timeline: Aberdeen bypass
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Bats dilemma for bypass progress
07 Dec 09 |  North East/N Isles
School's bypass costs criticised
17 Nov 09 |  North East/N Isles
City bypass report being drawn up
11 Dec 08 |  North East/N Isles
Bypass probe looks at south route
14 Oct 08 |  North East/N Isles
Bypass probe set for woods claims
24 Sep 08 |  North East/N Isles
Legal bypass challenge launched
09 Sep 08 |  North East/N Isles

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