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Transport (Aberdeen and the North-east)

Scottish Executive Question Time — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 2nd December 2010.

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Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party 11:40 am, 2nd December 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive what the implications are of the draft budget proposals on transport projects for Aberdeen and the north-east. (S3O-12213)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is continuing to make record levels of investment in transport projects right across Scotland, including Aberdeen and the north-east. We remain committed to delivering the Aberdeen western peripheral route and the Balmedie project, and construction is under way on the £31.5 million A96 Fochabers and Mosstodloch project. On rail, we remain committed to service enhancements between Aberdeen and Inverness.

Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary share my view that the biggest danger to those projects, particularly the AWPR, is not the budget but the court case in the Court of Session? Can he advise us how robustly the Government will defend its position?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I assure Mr Adam that the Government will be extremely robust in defending its position in the court case. The Government's decision on the AWPR is securely founded. I would wish to be able to make more progress on the project but, as I am sure that Mr Adam and other members will appreciate, the Government cannot do that when there is a live court case on the matter. I assure him that the Government will defend its position and the strength of its decision robustly.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

Is money identified in the budget specifically to solve the problems of the Inveramsay bridge in Aberdeenshire, as the Scottish National Party promised?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The Government remains committed to resolving the serious issue of the Inveramsay bridge that the member for the area raised, which is the subject of focused attention by the transport minister. Progress on that will be set out when it can be undertaken.

Photo of Richard Baker Richard Baker Labour

Given that the court case is frustrating the development of the western peripheral route, is it not time for the Scottish Government to decide not to delay work on the Haudagain roundabout until after the completion of the WPR and to start work on that transport problem for Aberdeen before beginning work on the WPR?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I am pretty sure that Mr Baker accepts that there is an inextricable link between the improvements that are required at the Haudagain roundabout and the AWPR project.

I acknowledge the issues at the Haudagain roundabout, which is why the Government has said that it will undertake the improvements before the roundabout is handed over for local management and responsibility, once the AWPR is completed. I am as frustrated as the member is that, after all the scrutiny that has taken place, a strong and robust ministerial decision on the AWPR is being thwarted by an unnecessary court case. Unfortunately, we must wait until that is concluded before we can make the progress that all of us would like to see. It will be appropriate to make the Haudagain roundabout improvements once the AWPR is complete.