I, too, wish to support the creation of the western peripheral route, which will contribute to and be important for the economic future of Aberdeen. I echo the calls for the project to proceed with the full financial support of the Scottish Executive and without delay.
However, I want to reflect some of the concern that is felt by residents of communities to the west of Aberdeen, who favour serious reconsideration of the proposed route. As recently as 1994, there were still around 15 options under review, and the current route was confirmed by Grampian Regional Council only shortly before reorganisation in 1996. This has never been a single-option project.
A strong argument against the proposed route, which was expressed by respondents to a household survey that was carried out in the area, is that the western peripheral route should go round the city and not through it. Aberdeen has an eccentric shape and extends out through Cults to Culter, and many people feel that the western peripheral route should skirt the western margin of Culter.
The current option was selected in preference to that because it was claimed that routes further out would do little to relieve traffic congestion in the
As has been mentioned, Aberdeen chamber of commerce and the city traders association have acknowledged that the western peripheral route will help to promote a new corridor of investment and development. Although it is accepted that land is needed for residential, industrial and commercial development, residents feel that the western peripheral route is putting the green belt at risk. The city should be proud of the way in which, over the decades, green belt policy has achieved what it set out to do, especially the aim of preserving areas of unspoilt countryside as close to the city as possible and for the benefit of the whole population of Aberdeen.
Among the natural assets that would be badly affected are the Newton Dee and Camphill Rudolf Steiner schools. People on those campuses would suffer greatly from the noise and disruption. Moreover, to run a dual carriageway through land that includes one of the longest-established organic farms in the north-east is not acceptable. In the 1994 environmental impact assessment it was concluded that "the deleterious effects of the Western option on the Camphill Estates are severe and may be sufficient to make that route unacceptable."
While fully endorsing what has been said about the benefits to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire of the western peripheral route, I suggest that the location of the route may warrant some reconsideration.