Tory MSP Peter Chapman has demanded answers from Scottish Government transport agency Transport Scotland, which last night confirmed the £745 million Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) would be granted “special road” status. This means agricultural vehicles are banned.
The claims emerged after a meeting at the New Deer Show in Aberdeenshire last weekend. The rural nature of much of Aberdeenshire means tractors are a regular feature on roads in the region.
Mr Chapman said: “Farmers are up in arms about this.
“From the correspondence I have seen, it would appear the AWPR will be given special road designation, meaning tractors won’t be allowed.
“My view is that this road is not a motorway. It is a dual carriageway and therefore tractors should be permitted to travel along the route.
“If not, we will be forcing agricultural vehicles through the middle of Aberdeen, which does nothing for efficiency, congestion or our greenhouse gas emissions. I have had constituents raise this issue with me and it was brought up again at the New Deer Show at the weekend.”
Farmers are concerned they will have difficulty transporting livestock, particularly those looking to make the journey from Ellon to the other side of the city at Portlethen.
Mr Chapman, himself a farmer, said there was also the question of increased greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural vehicles being forced to travel through the city rather than using the new western peripheral route. A small section of the 28-mile dual carriageway was opened last month, but it will be fully opened to traffic in the autumn.
Iain Taylor, Scottish Conservative councillor for Turriff and District, added: “This is a big issue for farmers based north of Aberdeen who are hauling cattle to Portlethen for slaughter and also for contractors doing work over a large area.
“Our farmers need some clarity on this, particularly on whether the special road status extends all the way to Tipperty and Ellon.”
The road was scheduled for completion in spring this year, but the collapse of Carillion left partners Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try to cover the costs.
A Transport Scotland spokesman confirmed the bypass was designated as a special road and “as such, agricultural vehicles need to meet specific conditions to travel on the road”.
The spokesman added: “One of these conditions prevents agricultural vehicles from travelling more than 1.5km between farm land, unless they are being used for horticultural purposes such as trimming verges.
“We understand that this means that it is not possible to meet this distance criterion on the new road. However, as strategic traffic will transfer from the existing road network to the AWPR, we expect to see significant journey time savings on local roads, generating significant benefits for agricultural use.”