Green light for Aberdeen bypass as Supreme Court rejects appeal
CAMPAIGNERS standing in the way of the long-awaited Aberdeen bypass have lost a last-ditch legal attempt in the UK’s highest court to block the construction of the route.
• RoadSense appeal against Aberdeen bypass rejected at Supreme Court
• Local politicians welcome decision to approve project
Five judges at the Supreme Court yesterday unanimously rejected a final appeal by protest group RoadSense to challenge the Scottish Government’s go-ahead for the vital road – first mooted 64 years ago.
Political and business leaders in north-east Scotland united in welcoming the removal of the final legal obstacle to the new route, which will end daily gridlock misery for thousands of motorists in Europe’s oil capital. Commuters currently have to cross the River Dee, the main entrance to the city, via a bridge built in the 16th century – it was widened in 1840 to allow horse-drawn carriages to pass each other and today carries the A90.
First Minister Alex Salmond declared that it was now time to “crack on and deliver” the project. He announced that the development of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) will now be united with the Balmedie to Tipperty road scheme as a single construction project under one contract.
Mr Salmond said work on the project would begin immediately, with information notices on the joint roads development being issued this week and investigative drilling work starting on site next month. The project will go to tender early next year, with the bypass expected to be completed by spring 2018.
The First Minister said: “This is a day for celebration. The decision by the Supreme Court is a just ruling for the north-east of Scotland that marks the end of five incredibly frustrating years for the vast majority of people who are behind this ambitious project.
“Over the next three decades, the AWPR and the Balmedie to Tipperty road schemes are expected to bring in an additional £6 billion to the local economy, creating around 14,000 jobs.”
Mr Salmond admitted the “interminable court delays” would result in a substantial increase in the overall cost of the project.
But he stressed: “Its value to the north-east and wider Scottish economy is such that it must go ahead.”
Jim Gifford, the leader of Aberdeenshire Council, hailed the ruling as signalling the delivery of the “most significant piece of major infrastructure in the north-east of Scotland since the discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s”.
Barney Crockett, leader of Aberdeen City Council, said the Supreme Court ruling marked the end of a “long, drawn-out and very frustrating process” for people and businesses in the area.
He said: “I think most people in the region will join me in celebrating this victory for common sense. We have waited many years to finally get to this stage and, as a small number of objectors have finally exhausted the legal process, we can now concentrate on getting this crucial road built.”
William Walton, chairman of RoadSense, yesterday said: “I think this probably represents the end of the legal challenge to the road, because the only opportunity now that I am aware of would be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and we haven’t advanced a human rights issue, so I can’t see that being an option that we have in front of us.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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