Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Nairn Bypass and the dualling of the A96 – the modern day Battle of Auldearn coming up?

On Wednesday the 8th of this month there will be two Community Council meetings that will discuss the proposed dualling of the A96 and all the various options that appeared as a multitude of lines on the map at the Transport Scotland exhibition held in the Golf View in November.

River Community Council will be meeting in the town to formulate their response to the routes and likewise their counterparts in Auldearn will also have a meeting to decide which route is to be their preference. It is quite obvious that the eventual bypass route will not please everybody but out at Auldearn the options seem  to have pleased nobody so far, with choices that even bypass the existing bypass shown on the map.   There are also considerable practicalities for the lives of people in the village that the options may cause too, this was illustrated in the Gurn  article "No buses for Auldearn?It’s certainly a frightening possibility" - says our Gurnshire Eastcorrespondent”

We have, for the first time, a government in Holyrood that has promised a dual carriageway between Inverness and Aberdeen and also the same for the A9 up to Inverness and furthermore, it appears that Nairn could be first in the queue when construction starts. There are many in Nairn, perhaps the majority, that feel that a Nairn bypass is still the stuff of fantasy; albeit a very nice fantasy which came bundled with the trimmings of lots of well produced maps and polite and knowledgeable Transport Scotland receiving the population in a local hotel; with the Highland media corps devouring the occasion too. Some feel it could take years to resolve the issue of the final line for the dual carriageway.  Other observers will stress that they fail to see where the money will come from regardless of the outcome of 2014 either with continued rule from Westminster (they still plan billions of pounds worth of cuts) or in an independent Scotland – what would be the complexion and the priorities of the first government post a winning YES vote?

The permutations are many but of course it is very real for those whose homes and land are in the vicinity of the options and a week today many of them will be in Dunbar Memorial Hall in Auldearn to have their say. Could it be that organised opposition will emerge to some of the proposals to the extent that the Scottish Government will have a fight on its hands to proceed through the parish of Auldearn with a dual carriageway?

Meanwhile in the town, there will probably be a different set of priorities displayed by residents who have long campaigned for a bypass and may worry less about the eventual line. Some commentators seem to wish for a bypass that goes as far south as possible to allow for expansion of the town. Out of sight out of mind?

“It’ll never happen in my lifetime” is still a regular mantra but the lines have appeared on the map and it affects real people’s lives in real time. It can’t be much fun waiting for an indeterminate period of months or years to see if a dual carriageway will be going past your front door. The dualling and the A96 bypass will be a topic that will crop up often in 2014 and 2015, 2016 and perhaps even way, way beyond that. 

No comments: