The proposed A96 Nairn bypass and trunk road were discussed last night at the meeting of Nairnshire’s community councils in the Centre. Dick Youngson, leading the discussion told of how he’d received representation from Debbie McBean of East Nairnshire CC about her concerns of how the lines on the map were affecting farmers, and how farms that could be split by the bypass could be unworkable etc.
The seemingly apparent disinclination of the Scottish Government to allow access to the bypass at South Nairn (as expressed in a submission to the local development plan) and its potential impact was analysed brifely.
Roger Milton detailed how the various proposals seemed to have upset most people in Auldearn and how his council had opted for the northern route. He said:
“Very few people have an indication of the scale of this road. This is not like the Forres bypass or things like this. We are looking at a motorway type construction, it is massive. Because of the no linkage rule, in Auldearn, we are often seeing the dual-carriageway with significant separation plus side roads to provide connections to the access road which have been cut off by those necessities so we feel that it would be better to move it to the north of the village.”
Brian Stewart then said: “The interesting thing is that a superhighway between Inverness and Aberdeen is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s become a vanity project like the HS2 south of the border because ministers have put political capital into declaring that they are going to dual Inverness to Aberdeen. It has now become a kind of iconic thing that everybody takes their hat off to. I kind of wonder, even though, I hate to use the phrase; we are already a long way down the road in the discussions. I wonder how much mileage there is, how much point there is, in whatever letters or lobbying we do to Keith Brown or others to actually make the point that you are delivering a very expensive solution to a problem that isn’t there.
What there is a problem with, as we’ve all lived with for 20 years, is bypassing the major towns, we have it ,Elgin has it to some extent because their inner ring road isn’t quite working. Keith has it because it has the same problem we do, an issue of getting across a river in the middle of a town. I wonder whether we can’t keep up the messaging to MPs and ministers and whoever: look it’s great if you are going to do this and it is going to cost you mega millions but you are delivering something that isn't really required and probably won’t be for another 10-15 years. What you ought to be doing is spending the money you have got, it may not be quite as much as you think, on delivering the things that are really needed, and in the same way as they delivered a Fochabers bypass just a year or two ago; perhaps we say deliver proper bypasses to the parts of the problem that exist rather than a fantasy project that is going to cost so much more.”
One Suburban member disagreed and said that she thought that there was the need for a dual carriageway between Inverness and Aberdeen but that the priority was for a Nairn bypass.
Simon Noble of River CC went further, he said: “I think it would be a mistake to describe the plans to make it a dual carriageway all the way as a token. I think that would be a mistake if...”
Brian then interjected: “I wasn’t actually drafting the letter Simon, I was putting the idea across.”
Simon continued: “Yes but you are suggesting an approach though, that doesn’t help make the case that the priority is a bypass for us before a dual carriageway. I’d like to see a dual carriageway. The trunk road between here and Aberdeen is frankly a nightmare; it certainly wasn’t thirty years ago. It’s going to be a worse nightmare in a shorter time.”
The meeting agreed to wait until the result of the Nairn South planning appeal before writing to ministers in connection with the Councils’ concerns on the bypass and trunk road.