I thank Brian, my north-east colleague, for initiating this debate. I am glad that we from the north-east have been able to come together on the issue. Brian raised many relevant points about the western peripheral route round Aberdeen.
The route has been long in the planning and the need for it becomes more urgent daily. Aberdeen is Scotland's third city and the oil capital of Europe. Oil-related economic activity in Aberdeen has contributed billions of pounds to UK finances and will continue to do so for some time. As Brian mentioned, there are the traditional industries in the north-east: fishing, agriculture and, in my constituency of Aberdeen North, paper making.
Those industries mostly move their goods by road and will continue to do so. The oil and gas industry is in the middle of one of its cyclical downturns, but the price of oil is rising and economic activity is likely to rise next year, which will be accompanied by an increasing volume of traffic.
There are environmental problems. Increasing air pollution in Aberdeen city centre affects the health of citizens and the quality of life there is generally reduced because of the heavy volume of traffic. Part of the solution is to encourage people to use buses, walk and cycle or to be more selective about their journeys by car. The other part of the solution is to move the heavy goods traffic out of the city centre altogether, allowing people to go round the city, not through it.
The western periphery route has been on the drawing board for a total of almost 50 years. It is included in the 1997 Grampian structure plan and in the Aberdeen city transportation strategy. It is fully supported by Aberdeen City Council and the other partners in the north-east economic development partnership, such as Grampian Enterprise and Aberdeenshire Council.
The planned route goes round the city, from the A90 in the south to the A90 in the north. It is a key part of the local transport strategy for Aberdeen and its surrounds. Other parts of the transport strategy-the bus lanes and the park-and-ride scheme-will work best only with the western peripheral route; for example, the park-and-ride schemes are designed to intersect with the western periphery route.
My constituents in the Bridge of Don and all those living beside North Anderson Drive and Auchmill are daily suffering the ill effects of living beside heavy traffic or the frustrations that result from congestion when they are driving from one part of the city to another. They live beside or have to travel on roads that are not suitable for use as trunk roads, but which have a high volume of traffic thundering down them every day because they are the only roads available.
The roads are not motorways and they are not well separated from housing. Anderson Drive is a dual carriageway on to which houses open and which children cross regularly. Brian mentioned the 17 sets of traffic lights. Those are for the pedestrian crossings along Anderson Drive and are completely inefficient on a trunk route, but necessary because of the proximity of housing and people. That is not to mention some pollution-sick roses down the middle of the carriageway beside Haughigan roundabout. Members may wonder why I am talking about roses, but we Aberdonians are proud of our city and the quality of life there, despite the fact that that quality is increasingly suffering because of the heavy traffic and other transport problems.
Many of the city's small country roads are currently used as a peripheral route, but they are totally unsuitable for such use. That has an impact on all local residents. The expansion of the oil and gas industry has led to considerable population growth in Aberdeenshire. Whole new areas of housing have been built, such as at the Bridge of Don, which now forms nearly half of Aberdeen North. That has been accompanied by a huge expansion in economic activity. The current transport infrastructure, particularly the roads, just cannot cope.