Saturday, December 14, 2013

"No buses for Auldearn? It’s certainly a frightening possibility" - says our Gurnshire East correspondent

Here's our Gurnshire East correspondent's impressions of the bypass meeting held in Auldearn earlier this week:

Auldearn’s Dunbar Hall attracted a large crowd on Wednesday evening to an exhibition of how the  proposals for a Nairn bypass could affect the village. 

After having a chance to study detailed  plans of the possible route options the meeting was drawn to order by Roger Milton, Chair of Auldearn Community Council, who explained to the audience that, although there are multiple route options, there are effectively only four variations within the Auldearn Community Council boundary. 

It was thought that focusing on the impact that the new road would have on the village and surroundings, rather than looking  at Nairn and beyond, would allow more detail to be studied and subsequent issues better understood.

The four routes through Auldearn were : 
 Northern  (2A/2E/2H)
 Existing Bypass line (2B/2F) 
 South Inner (2C/2G)
 South Outer (2D/2I) 

A plan of each possible route was projected on a large screen and a full explanation  given about the details of junctions, existing roads that would be severed and any alternative access arrangements, issues with community severance, transport links etc. 

All of the routes will impact on farmland and  housing to a lesser or greater degree but those in attendance seemed genuinely surprised when the potential impact of some route details were explained.

While the South Outer option offers to create a new bridge over the bypass for the Lethen Road, leaving easy access into the village from  Fornighty and Lethen, the South Inner scheme offers no such flyover. Anyone wanting to get to the village from the south under that scheme , including those living at Newmill, would be faced with a 3 mile detour to get to Auldearn. 

The Northernmost route, at the stroke of a designers pen, would take a dual carriageway within 50 metres of a farmhouse and straight through the middle of the very popular fruit farm at Hardmuir. 

Both South Outer and Inner routes would create a new junction near Courage but this junction lacks slipways on its western side, meaning that vehicles could not access the west bound carriageway here, or leave the east bound carriageway, which is fine if you want to go to Aberdeen, or you’re returning from it. The alternative in both cases involves an extra 5 miles on your journey.  

The existing bypass line effectively cuts the Auldearn area in two, severing the area north of the exiting bypass line from the village. All the properties in that area: Boath House, Penick Farm, Hardmuir Fruit Farm and the groups of houses at Broombank, Auldearn Station and beyond would only be able to get to Auldearn by first making their way to  Auchnacloich, via the totally unsuitable network of single track roads.  In some cases this would turn a half mile return journey on foot to the village into a six mile round trip by car.

The meeting was also surprised to hear that if the route along the existing bypass was adopted as drawn, it would impact on the school playing field, the graveyard and the bus services. 

Given that the village’s eastern A96 access would be closed off, Auldearn would no longer have a through road suitable for larger vehicles. Any buses heading for the village would have to make their way from the new  junction to the east and then find somewhere to turn around in the village , before making their way back to the main road again.  

Questions raised from the floor made it obvious that Auldearn has been very badly served by these proposals, with lack of common sense being applied or indeed any evidence that those responsible for the designs ever walked the routes first. 

“Why a duel carriageway?” was the most common comment but it was pointed out that the Community Council has to respond to the proposals in front of them and not question whether the ‘duel’ aspect has more to do with political manoeuvring and less with real world economics or need.

Any comments or objections have to in by 31st January 2014 and details of the proposals can be found at 

A follow up public meeting is to be held on 8th January 2014 to allow  Auldearn Community Council to finalise its response to Transport Scotland


tyred out said...

Some very valid observations made at that community council meeting and with sensitivity shown in only discussing the bypass route as it effects those within its own boundaries,unlike other community coucnils in the town.

It seems that little thought has been given to the potential community severance effects of some of the routes on people who live close to the village and I'm sure that there will be people living in Auldearn who thought that the new bypass wouldn't affect them.

Realising that one route would have a major impact on the bus services serving the village might well make them think again.

There is a sound case for a bypass but a very weak one for a dual carriageway.

The traffic forecasts for the Nairn area produced over the last few years show projected traffic volumes nowhere near those that would require a dual carriageway.

The report, which can be found here
talks of traffic volumes well within the capacity of a single carriageway bypass, as far into the future as 2041.

Obviously those in government must have much bigger crystal balls........

Anonymous said...

OMG =:o
somebody actually left a comment on this site. Who are you related to to get a comment posted ?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:05 AM

Yes who are you related to? Please tell us and then we too can have a comment posted

LOL = :-D

road hog said...

@tyred out 8.53pm.

The essential point about any road (not just bypasses) is that they join up different places. Auldearn is not an island. What happens to traffic in Nairn affects Auldearn (and indeed Cawdor/Croy etc), and vice versa. So it is absolutely right for community councils, and others, to look not only at the immediately local impact of the bypass but also at the wider consequences. So please don't make snide remarks about "other community councils". Petty parochialism won't produce sensible plans.

Also, don't set too much store by consultants' traffic forecasts which "show projected traffic volumes nowhere near those that would require a dual carriageway.". It all depends on the theoretical model used: garbage in, garbage out.

The 2007 Faber Maunsell report itself says (p2) that the model "is based on 2005 Inverness models", that these base models (p3) "used 1991 matrices" and (p28) that the base matrices were growthed [sic] using "NRT Forecasts ....without any development".

Hardly surprising that using 1991 stats as a base and factoring in no development produces traffic volumes for only a single carriageway! But let's get real.

Anyway. which is better - to underestimate traffic growth, build a single carriageway and then find it inadequate and congested? Or to allow for the possibility of higher traffic volumes, and build a dualled bypass which has the capacity to cope. It's called realistic planning and future-proofing.

I'm tyred too said...

So please don't make snide remarks about "other community councils". Petty parochialism won't produce sensible plans.

I see that observation made by Mr Out as a simple statement of fact , not petty parochialism.

I think it's fair enough that Auldearn only considered the impact on those living within its boundaries, after all the clue is in the title 'community council'.

Given that every option has a predetermined overall route, Auldearn's selection of their preferred route will have natural consequences for the road line around Nairn but they are not voicing opinions on matters that could have potentially massive impact on folk that they don't represent.

When it comes to traffic volumes - You may subscribe to the build it and they'll come philosophy.

I would suggest that while dualling the A96 out from Inverness towards the Balloch Junction, or perhaps the airport, would pay dividends, could you really sanction the spending hundreds of millions of pounds providing Nairn with a dualled bypass?

The engineers involved in these designs sing from the same hymn sheet as those that insisted that Nairn needed four extra sets of traffic lights because someone wanted to build a glorified convenience store on the outskirts of town.

Nairn would benefit from a bypass, I feel that efficient traffic flow could be maintained well into the future by building it as a single carriageway.

Obiviously there are those involved in civil engineering who think building four lane black tops everywhere is a marvellous idea.

Perhaps those whose livelihoods and homes will be affected by the new extra-wide bypass options we are now presented might take a little more convincing.

shallow minded said...

Increase fuel duty by 500% and the need for a bypass is bypassed, the High Street is saved, we walk or use a bicycle, and we save a whole heap of money which is the really important thing for most people

road hog said...

@I'm tyred too 3.48pm

I think you misinterpreted my earlier comment. It is indeed fair enough that Auldearn "...only considered the impact on those living within its boundaries" . It was the implied criticism of Mr Out's added phrase "....unlike other CCs" that was gratuitously objectionable. A thoughtful neighbour considers the implications of his plans for those living next door too. So CCs quite sensibly can and should, look at the impact of what happens beyond their own parish boundaries. We live in a joined-up world.

Just for the record - in response to the other gratuitous swipe - I do not "subscribe to the build it and they'll come philosophy."

The example of the traffic lights and the [Sainsburys] "glorified convenience store" just proves the earlier point: you can't trust the theoretical models and forecasts of consultants.

It would perhaps be better if plans for bypasses and other infrastructure were drawn up and decided at a local level. Ah, but wait - that would mean reaching an agreed consensus within the community. What chance of that in and around Nairn and Auldearn?

Ultra nimb said...

Stop congestion now - set fire to your car!

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Auldearn and , at that, one who could be affected by the bypass, I would have to say that I was pleased to be able to attend the meeting in the village and very impressed by the information on show.

It was obvious that the community council had gone to some lengths to ensure that they understood what was proposed and they communicated that to the audience very effectively.

For those of us whose homes could be affected it was good to be able to have someone explain exactly what was proposed regarding junctions and new roads.

I also saw the comment about the community council in Nairn who announced that they preferred a particular route, or rather half of one and hald of another , and it made me feel the same way as the perosn who commented earlier. How can a Nairn based body tell people in Auldearn what they think is best for them?

Nairn councils should pick the route they prefer as far as their boundaries, then the route chosen would follow a pre-determined path through Auldearn.

End result, no one gets upset.

I also think the people of the area can and do work very well together and local control of planning would be far better than what we have now.

I'm sure the comments about the preferred option affecting Auldearn attributed to another community council were not meant to offend but I'm sure you must concede that, on occasions, it's bad enough being told how you think by poeple who are elected to represent you, never mind those that don't.