Scottish environment and transport campaign groups today (15 September) had a joint letter printed in the Press and Journal calling on First Minister, Alex Salmond, to apologise to William Walton, Chairman of the Road Sense community campaign against the proposed Aberdeen Bypass.

The Press and Journal published a story on Tuesday 13 September 2011, entitled “Is this Scotland’s most hated man?” in which the First Minister is reported to have launched a “scathing attack” against Mr Walton.

The campaign groups responded to this article with a joint letter stating that they were “deeply disappointed” to see Mr Salmond appear to personally attack Mr Walton and called on him to apologise.

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

“As Chairman of the Road Sense community campaign, Mr Walton has put his life on hold, his personal finances at risk, and has suffered considerable personal abuse in order to challenge the poor decision and process led by Scottish Ministers in taking forward the proposed Aberdeen bypass. He has simply practiced his democratic right to challenge an environmentally damaging development that has been delivered through a flawed process, and he is to be commended for doing so, not hated!

“Mr Walton may be unpopular with the First Minister, the roads lobby and those who are scrabbling to open up the North East’s green belt to development for profit, but he has a significant number of friends, supporters and admirers amongst Scottish environment, planning and transport organisations and their memberships.

“It is Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government who are at fault here. If both had acted properly throughout the planning process for the proposed Aberdeen bypass, then there would have been no need for Mr Walton and the Road Sense campaigners to take the action they have.

“The proposed Aberdeen bypass is not the solution to the travel and transport problems of the North East of Scotland, and the money currently being wasted on it should be redirected to investment in public transport infrastructure and services instead.”

ENDS

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

Notes to Editors

1. Full text of the letter to the Editor of the Aberdeen Press and Journal

Dear Sir

In your article, “Is this Scotland’s most hated man?” (13/09/11), you report First Minister, Alex Salmond’s “scathing attack” on William Walton, Chairman of the Road Sense community campaign against the proposed Aberdeen Bypass.

Our organisations are deeply disappointed to see Mr Salmond appear to launch such a disgraceful personal attack on someone who has done no wrong whatsoever, and we call on the First Minister to apologise to Mr Walton.

Mr Walton has put his life on hold, his personal finances at risk, and has suffered considerable personal abuse in order to challenge a poor decision by Scottish Ministers and shed light upon the Scottish Government’s failure to act properly. He has simply practiced his democratic right to challenge an environmentally-damaging development that has been delivered through a flawed process.

It is Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government who are at fault here. If both had acted properly, then there would have been no need for Mr Walton and the Road Sense campaigners to take the action they have.

Mr Walton may be unpopular with the roads lobby and those who are scrabbling to open up the North East’s green belt to development for profit, but he has a significant number of friends, supporters and admirers amongst our organisations and their memberships, and as a citizen of a democracy is doing no more than exercising his rights.

Your Faithfully

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive Friends of the Earth Scotland www.foe-scotland.org.uk

Colin Howden, Director Transform Scotland www.transformscotland.org.uk

John Lauder, Director Sustrans Scotland www.sustrans.org.uk

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