Bypass protesters urged to admit defeat after new ruling

THE protest group standing in the way of the long-awaited £400 million Aberdeen bypass is facing unprecedented pressure to give up the fight after losing their latest legal bid to block the 28-mile route.

Political parties, local businesses and council leaders yesterday united in demanding that the campaigners from RoadSense abandon any final bid to take their case to the Supreme Court after three Scottish judges threw out their latest appeal against one of the most important transport improvement projects in Scotland for decades.

It is now more than 60 years since plans for a city bypass were first mooted as the solution to the gridlock gripping Europe’s oil capital, and more than two years since the government gave the go-ahead for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).

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First Minister Alex Salmond led calls for work on the vital route to begin as soon as possible. He said: “I am very pleased that the court has upheld the earlier ruling that the bypass should go ahead.

“The AWPR is a vital project for jobs, the economy and transport infrastructure of Aberdeen and the whole of the North-east – and the priority now is ensuring that work gets under way as soon as possible.”

Keith Brown, the Scottish transport minister, confirmed that the Scottish Government remained “totally committed” to the bypass being built as soon as possible.

“We are pleased that we can now move forward with this project, which is vital to the future prosperity of the North-east and Scotland as a whole,” he said.

“It is hoped that the small number of objectors opposed to the AWPR will be willing to accept the decision of the Court of Session, so that we can get on and build the road.”

Callum McCaig, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “I am sure I speak for everyone who wants to see our city and shire thrive by calling on the small minority who oppose the route to accept that our argument has been won, to mount no more appeals, and to allow our shared region to reach its true potential.”

But RoadSense chairman William Walton refused to rule out further legal action.

He said: “There still may be an appeal to the Supreme Court. The biggest hurdle is the strength and quality of the legal argument. If we have the legal argument, we will find the money. If not, we have to be responsible and walk away.

“If the advice here is that we have no legal argument, then we will call it a day. We have been burned twice and we wouldn’t want to get burned again.”

Henry Irvine Fortescue, a local landowner and founding member of RoadSense, said: “My view continues to be that the road will not solve Aberdeen’s problems.”