Peripheral Route, Aberdeen

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:25 pm on 23rd June 1999.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 5:25 pm, 23rd June 1999

I thank Brian Adam for raising this issue and thank all members for the level and quality of the contributions that they have made to the debate.

I hope to travel to Aberdeen on 6 July. The comments made today will be useful when I visit the city and look at its transport problems. As members have said, this proposal has been around for a long time and has widespread implications, some of which members have picked up on today. The proposal has potential benefits for the economy and for congestion, by relieving traffic through the city, but an 18 km road through a green belt location also has potential costs and will potentially have an impact on local communities, as Irene McGugan mentioned.

The route would cost a very large sum, as Brian Adam correctly identified. Early estimates suggest that the cost would be in the region of £85 million, which is far in excess of the sums that would be possible for such schemes with conventional funding. I will come back to that point later, because I think that it is a key issue.

I want to address also the wider context of this proposal, because it cannot be examined in isolation from the overall transport strategy for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

I am delighted to put on record the extent to which Aberdeen City Council has promoted innovative and radical transport strategies. We have already heard about the sustainable transport strategy implemented in Aberdeen last year. It was funded in partnership, which is extremely important, as it set the context for an overall transport strategy.

Improvements are taking place. Key examples are the park-and-ride site at Bridge of Don, the bus priority measures along the A944 from the previous transport challenge fund, this year's public transport fund approval for bus priority measures, park-and-ride sites on other important corridors into the city, and other proposals being developed by the council for bus priority measures in other parts of the city.

Progress has also been made on rail issues. Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council have worked effectively with ScotRail to develop rail services in and around the Aberdeen area. There is also the possibility of a feasibility study into a half-hourly service between Stonehaven, Aberdeen and Inverurie. Those are important developments.

Key service improvements have been introduced by ScotRail in the past two years. There are seven additional services through Stonehaven and five additional services through Dyce.