Sunday, September 13th, 2015
In the light of the recent ‘meet the team’ A96 dualling exhibitions in Culloden and Nairn, Highlands and Islands Greens remain deeply concerned with Transport Scotland’s persistence with its proposals for a new A9-A96 ‘mad-mile’ link-road in East Inverness.
“Transport Scotland’s persistence with their A9-A96 link road is hugely disappointing, and raises serious questions about the Agency’s priorities” said Isla O’Reilly, Highlands and Islands Green Party candidate for the Holyrood regional list.
At a time when there is an overwhelming case for significant investment in rail and cycling projects across the Highlands, it is unacceptable for Transport Scotland to continue to develop their proposal to spend £60 million or more on an unnecessary, and socially and environmentally damaging road project.
Transport Scotland claim that the project is economically justifiable. But their analysis wholly fails to take any account of the negative impact the road would have on the prospects for a much-needed large-scale district park in East Inverness.
In fact Transport Scotland’s own analysis (1) reveals that the short, 2 km road would divert only 10% or at most 20% of A96 peak-hour traffic, and that these few motorists using the road could save only ten or twenty seconds on their peak-hour journeys.
This is absurd. Spending £60 million or more of tax-payers’ money to save a comparatively few drivers a few seconds of time during just a couple of hours a day makes no sense at all. No mention is made of any savings during the rest of the day, probably because there wouldn’t be any.
Furthermore, the link road would ruin the whole ambiance of the area designated for a district park in the East Inverness area in the 2006 Inverness Local Development Plan, and now in the 2015 Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan. We anticipate that the district park would comprise parkland, allotments, children’s playgrounds etc – all of which the East Inverness area currently lacks, despite a near 50% increase in households in the Westhill area over recent years.
We understand that Transport Scotland intends finalising the exact route of the link road to ‘accommodate’ the district park, but that will do little if anything to mitigate the intrusive impact of the road on what is intended to be a pleasant, quiet and stimulating recreational area.
And while we appreciate Transport Scotland’s concern to help relieve the Raigmore roundabout of local traffic, perhaps heading for the retail park, we consider that far greater reductions in traffic volumes would be gained by the provision of the district park in East Inverness for Westhill, Culloden and Balloch residents who currently travel across town to enjoy Bught Park and Whin Island.
We are doubly concerned because all Highland Councillors – Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and the Independents – have all bought into this wasteful scheme. In effect they have abandoned their own Development Plan’s district park provisions.
Far better that Transport Scotland spend the £60 million on designated cycle routes around Inverness, and significant rail improvements on the Inverness to Aberdeen, and Inverness to Perth lines.
We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Scotland to have this link-road proposal dropped.