Special-needs centre protests against bypass

RESIDENTS and staff at an internationally-renowned centre for children and adults with special needs formed a human barrier yesterday to prevent surveyors starting work on plans to drive the new Aberdeen bypass through their community.

More than 50 staff and residents and several children at the Camphill Community, at Bieldside on the outskirts of the city, completely blocked the main entrance to the site as officials from the western peripheral route team arrived to begin vital survey work on their land. The protesters also used a tractor to seal off the main entrance into the site.

The high-noon protest was the first direct confrontation between the members of the Camphill Community and the western peripheral road project team since Aberdeen City Council announced that work was due to begin on the ground investigation contract to identify the precise route of the new 120 million trunk road.

The Scotsman understands that the authority, in conjunction with its project partners, the Scottish Executive and Aberdeenshire Council, is poised to take court action to gain entry to the Camphill site, following yesterday’s peaceful protest.

The Camphill Community, which was established in Aberdeen more than 60 years ago, launched a protest campaign last month, claiming the community will be destroyed by the proposals to drive the city’s bypass through its heart.

Campaigners claim that the preferred route of the long-awaited dual carriageway will completely divide the community, separating the Camphill Rudolph Steiner School site on the Murtle Estate from the neighbouring Newton Dee community.

A four-man team from the western peripheral route project arrived on foot at the front entrance to the estate at midday yesterday to request entrance to the site. They held up a notice, requiring access to the site, but were firmly and politely turned away.

Colin Haldane, a spokesman for the protest group, told The Scotsman: "We are determined to oppose the road coming through this community because it will affect the lives of the community, those living here and the work going on here."

A spokesman for Aberdeen City Council said: "We will continue to negotiate.

"However, we may have to resort to taking court action, if necessary."

Derick Murray, the managing agent of the bypass project, said: "The work will be done in two phases. The first phase will be a preliminary investigation to identify the various types of material to be found along the route and identify areas where further investigation should be carried out.

"In the second phase, a more detailed schedule of investigations will be carried out which will assist in the preparation of the final design and provide the successful contractor with information for the construction."