A landscape architect refused yesterday to give his view on the acceptability of long-term landscape damage caused by parts of the proposed Aberdeen bypass’s southern leg.
Mark Lancaster, of Jacobs Engineering UK, said his role was to make an objective assessment of the “unavoidable” effects of the road project. He stressed any adverse impacts must be set against “the bigger picture” of the scheme.
Mr Lancaster admitted in his evidence to the public local inquiry into the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route that the Dee valley would suffer “severe” lasting effects – even with mitigation such as planting. He also revealed 436 buildings and 137 outdoor areas would be affected by “significant adverse impacts” 15 years after the road opened, despite the provision of protection such as planting and noise barriers.
Alasdair Burnet, representing various objectors, asked Mr Lancaster for his opinion on the “final position” of the valley if the road was built as proposed.
“We recognise it’s still a significant impact across the valley,” he replied.
“But I think it’s important we’re crossing the valley in a location that’s right next to the existing road crossing, the B979. It’s a pretty busy road so there’s a precedent for it.”
Mr Burnet asked if he accepted the road bridge would be built at a point where people travelling from Aberdeen had their first open view of the valley. Mr Lancaster said he did.
“So there will be a nice view for people using the AWPR,” said Mr Burnet.
“Yes, that’s correct,” replied the landscape architect.
Turning to the impact on Kingcausie Estate, Mr Burnet asked if Mr Lancaster was “content to be recommending” the construction of a dual carriageway through important landscape and close to a B-listed building.
Mr Lancaster replied: “I’m not recommending it. I have undertaken an assessment of this in an objective way and a decision has to be made looking at the bigger picture.
“Ideally, we would like to avoid all landscape impacts but that’s not the reality.
“If you’re going to build an AWPR, you’re going to have significant landscape impacts and that’s unavoidable.”
Mr Burnet added: “So you’re not saying it’s acceptable in landscape terms?”
Mr Lancaster replied: “I’m not making any comment on acceptability because I think you have to look at the bigger picture.”