The Scottish Government said yesterday it is prepared to discuss proposals to bring trams back to Aberdeen.
The city council wants support for a feasibility study into the possibility of a light rail network with connections from Dyce to Aberdeen International Airport, and the harbour through Torry and Cove.
Transport Minister Keith Brown put down a marker yesterday hinting against any suggestion of direct financial support for the project, however.
He said government transport priorities do not include the trams scheme and it was “a purely Aberdeen City Council initiative”.
The Scottish Government opposed the tram scheme in Edinburgh which ran massively over budget and disrupted the capital for years.
Maureen Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, accused the Labour-led administration at the Townhouse of “kite flying”.
But north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said a rail link could make a real difference to access to and from the city’s airport.
Mr Brown said government’s transport priorities were clearly set out in the strategic transport projects review and the infrastructure investment plan – which do not include trams.
“It would be an Aberdeen City Council initiative should the council choose to go forward with it, but obviously Transport Scotland officials will discuss the proposals with council officials if the council wants to bring them forward,” he said.
Afterwards Ms Watt said: “Given the fiasco that happened in Edinburgh over trams and the ongoing work on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the introduction of hydrogen buses in Aberdeen, it would be wiser to wait and see the impact of these three projects before committing scarce taxpayers’ money to this request.”
Mr Macdonald argued that, as work will not start on the Haudagain roundabout until at least 2018, it was “all the more important” that progress was made on a rail link to the airport. Ministerial promises that Transport Scotland is willing to discuss Aberdeen City Council’s transport plans are to be welcomed, but these promises must be backed up by action,” he said.