The news today (29 February) that the legal challenge against the planned Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route has been rejected, was met with dismay from Scotland’s leading environmental and transport campaigners.

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“William Walton was right to challenge this expensive vanity project as information was withheld from the beginning, due process was not followed in planning and promoting the project, and the opinions of 20,000 objectors were summarily ignored by Transport Scotland at a sham Public Local Inquiry. Our petrol-headed Scottish Ministers seem hell bent on swathing tarmac across the countryside, to open it up to their house-builder and big business chums for development, and neither due process, public concern nor damage to the environment seem to concern them.”

“The bypass will not be a solution to the transport problems that travellers face on a daily basis in Aberdeen and the north east. The vast amount of money being spent on this would be better spent improving public transport services, removing freight traffic from local roads and reducing the need for people to travel in the first place, all of which would benefit everyone in the north east. The project is imperfect in every way – it will be a massive black hole for money, it will severely test the stretched finances of the Aberdeen City and Shire Councils, and any perceived benefits will be short-lived and disproportionately expensive.”

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland, said:

“It is deeply disappointing that the court have again thrown out this challenge from campaigners trying to protect their community from the Aberdeen Bypass. This scheme will trash local wildlife and increase climate change emissions as it generates new traffic.

“We have the best climate targets in the world, but when it comes to transport Ministers suddenly seem to forget about climate change, local air pollution, community concerns and local wildlife and go for roads spending every time. We need a major re-balancing of Scotland transport spending away from roads and into public transport, walking and cycling.”

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“People are fooling themselves if they think a western bypass will cure traffic problems in Aberdeen. Everyone knows that the real problem is car commuting into the city, especially during the morning rush hour – something that an orbital road will do nothing to address. The best way that Aberdeen’s traffic problems could be tackled would be to deliver commuter rail routes into the city. The only thing that a bypass will deliver is the devastation of the city’s green belt through car-dependent commuter sprawl and out-of-town retail tin sheds.

“What we still don’t know is how much the project will cost. No-one believes that the £395m price-tag, a figure which dates from 2005, is a realistic estimate for this project. Given the cuts to public sector jobs and services carried out in the North East over recent years, we can be sure that this project will force Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils to make further cuts to local services in order to meet their financial commitments towards the already excessive cost of the road.”

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. Aberdeen bypass appeal rejected by judges
news.stv.tv/scotland/north/299332-aberdeen-bypass-appeal-rejected-by-judges

2. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk

3. WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. For more information:
wwfscotland.org.uk

4. Transform Scotland campaigns for better transport policies and practice which will directly benefit everyone living in our society. We are a membership organisation which undertakes media work, events and projects to highlight the benefits of sustainable transport.
www.transformscotland.org.uk