Locals rally to save iconic hills from dualling plans

Mither Tap, Bennachie, Aberdeenshire
Mither Tap, Bennachie, Aberdeenshire
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A campaign is under way to prevent a dual carriageway being driven through an iconic hillscape.

Bennachie, a range of hills in Aberdeenshire, is hugely popular with hillwalkers and its award-winning visitor centre welcomes an increasing number of tourists.

Transport Scotland, however, plans to upgrade the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road to a dual carriageway by 2030.

While a number of route options near Inverurie are being considered, some of those encroach upon Bennachie.

One proposal would take the carriageway over the foot of the hill, metres from the visitor centre.

The Save Bennachie Alliance has been launched to protect Bennachie and its surrounding area.

Already, the group has been inundated with photographs by supporters holding a “Save Bennachie” placard in all four corners of the world, including Italy, New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Japan, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Mexico, the USA.

Group member Lynda Bain said it was vital that everyone who has fallen in love with Bennachie over the years be fully aware of what is proposed.

“It’s important the public know the area is under threat,” she said.

“A lot of people love it and we want to make them aware that we want to fight this.

“It’s really important local people get involved in this process, because there are a lot of people across Aberdeenshire who love Bennachie.”

On the eastern edge of the Grampian mountain range, about tem miles from Inverurie, Bennachie is one of the North-east’s most recognisable landmarks.

It is believed the hill range had religious significance to the Bronze Age people who inhabited the area, a theory supported by the of standing stones in the landscape.

The Save Bennachie Alliance is made up of 14 groups including community councils, environmental trusts, business associations and outdoor groups.

It is urging locals and expats to put their feelings for the historic hill into words by recording a ten-second video clip explaining why they love Bennachie. The clips will be uploaded to the campaign’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in a bid to stop plans to construct a 26-mile road crossing the lower slopes of Bennachie as part of the new eastern section of the A96.