Aberdeenshire - the forgotten corner of Scotland?

The long and continuing saga of the A90 continues to rumble on as north-east politicians turn their attention to Humza Yousaf’s new cabinet.

North-east politician Kevin Stewart has now taken over the position of Transport Minister and local policitians and councillors have been quick to call for a re-think on the notorious stretch of road which has claimed numerous lives over the past three years.

One of the most prolific campaigners is Ellon councillor Gillian Owen. She has penned a letter to Mr Stewart giving evidence as to why this stretch of road is in dire need or urgent attention. Ms Owen states that Alex Salmond made a promise to the residents back in 2006 that if he became Scotland’s first minister the first decision he would make would be to dual the road between Ellon and Peterhead.

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“Promises made and broken do not help our fragmented infrastructure and, as you know, the railway doesn’t exist for us after Aberdeen,” she said. "The residents of the North East feel forgotten and left out. They see millions of £’s spent in the central belt on all types of infrastructure and all we appear to be neglected.

​The notorious Toll of Birness has claimed many lives over the years.​The notorious Toll of Birness has claimed many lives over the years.
​The notorious Toll of Birness has claimed many lives over the years.

“The opening of the AWPR and the linked Balmedie-Tipperty dualling has been transformational, however, it has led to significant congestion at times around the two entrances to Ellon and the dualling becomes a bottleneck on the trunk road between the southern and northern roundabouts at Ellon.

“These junctions are no longer adequate for the volume of traffic which uses them daily and threatens the future prosperity of Ellon and towns to the north by potentially limiting the development opportunities that these towns need to grow and be sustainable.

“For over 10 years I have campaigned under the banner of ‘Why Stop at Ellon’ for a full dualling of the A90, firstly to the Toll of Birness and thereafter, North towards Peterhead and Fraserburgh. The opening of the AWPR has shown what dualling a route can do for intra-regional travel and for ensuring shorter and more importantly reliable journey times for freight hauliers and business.

“The Toll of Birness has an appalling and tragic safety record, caused through a fatal combination of the geometry of the approaching roads which makes judging the speed and distance of approaching traffic from the north and south difficult.

Councillor Gillian Owen has written to the Transport Minister.Councillor Gillian Owen has written to the Transport Minister.
Councillor Gillian Owen has written to the Transport Minister.

"Combined with the speed of traffic on the A90 and the volume of traffic it makes egressing from the junction from the Mintlaw direction at times very challenging, especially for the long-articulated HGVs which serve the fishing, fish processing and agricultural industries in and to the north of Mintlaw.

"There have been several fatal accidents at this junction, all attributable to the design and operation of this junction hence my long-standing campaign to upgrade and re-design the Toll of Birness.

“Peterhead is the UK’s whitefish capital with Fraserburgh not lagging far behind. The ability to transport fresh and processed fish and seafood to its markets, especially in Europe, in a timely fashion is critical and all too often the risks of being unable to do this due to the lack of resilience on these routes.

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"Fraserburgh and Peterhead are two of our priority regeneration towns and have the opportunity to capitalise on developments such as the offshore wind industry. In order to attract inward investment the transport links to the rest of the network require to be adequate and currently they are not.

“For all the reasons above I would ask that you take another look at this corridor as it is the engine room of the North East and the contribution this area makes to the Scottish economy is huge and that’s why connectivity is key and improvements to the infrastructure are so essential.”