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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Highland Greens Challenge The Highland Council’s Fundamental Case for Developing the A96 Corridor Between Inverness and Nairn

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

In their response to The Highland Council’s recent ‘Main Issues’ Highland–wide development plans consultation, Highlands and Islands Greens have challenged the basis of the Council’s case for developing the A96 corridor between Inverness and Nairn, as proposed in the consultation document.

“While we welcome some of the proposals contained in the report, we fundamentally object to the principle of an A96 corridor.  We are also wholly opposed to the proposed entirely new and huge developments of East Inverness and Tornagrain within the corridor” said Donnie Macleod, the Greens’ Westminster election candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

“In our response to the consultation, we questioned the report’s assertion that ‘the continued growth and development of Inverness and the surrounding area is essential so that the Highlands can continue to prosper’.  No evidence is given in the report to support this assertion, and we recommended it be dropped as a planning assumption in the development plans.

“There is a real danger that a massive additional population in the corridor, and so close to Inverness, will drain other parts of the Highlands – and possibly the Islands as well – of population, jobs and infrastructure investment.

“Furthermore, at a time when the Highland Council is preparing its Climate Change Strategy, the proposal’s centralising effect will lead to proportionately greater road traffic, and related more severe congestion, principally because increasingly more people outwith Inverness will travel to the retail, commercial and industrial facilities in the A96 corridor.

“Also, developing the corridor would result in the loss of a sizeable area of good agricultural land.

“The Highlands have an ageing population.  But of even greater concern are The Highland Council’s projected reductions in population in some parts of the Highlands, notably Caithness and Sutherland.  In addition, projections of significant falls in numbers of children and those of working age in all parts of the Highlands, except Inverness itself, are similarly worrying to us.

“The development plans should place much greater stress on reinvigorating existing local communities across the Highlands.  Greater emphasis on supporting the development of small-scale local industries throughout the Highlands would attract people and jobs back to long-standing towns and communities – a move which is urgently needed.  In particular, the proposed public expenditure of almost £40m for A96 corridor-related funding would be far more cost-effectively spent on more sustainable transport-related public infrastructure projects in existing communities, including Homezones and cycleways.

“For the East Inverness area in particular, we would much prefer this to comprise part of Inverness’s ‘Green belt’, and for it to remain as agricultural land, or with provision for allotments and also a public park, arboretum and wildlife area – all of which the East Inverness area currently lacks.”

Notes

(1) The Highland and Islands Green Party’s full response to the Main Issues report is here.