PROTESTERS vowed last night to fight tooth and nail against Moray’s most controversial building project in decades.
About 50 opponents of Elgin’s £8.5million western link road squeezed into the town’s Mansefield Hotel to devise a plan of action against the scheme.
Objectors called the meeting to co-ordinate their campaign against the scheme. Members of the audience were told the project would have a significant impact on hundreds of properties – and that the economic case for it had not been proved.
Caroline Webster, a leading member of the protest group, said it would be wrong to burden the people of Moray with the additional cost of an unwelcome road at a time when the council was cutting services.
“The environmental impact is much more than originally anticipated,” she said.
“Even in the planning application itself, the agent has said there will be a significant noise and visual impact on hundreds of properties.
“When we’re all having to face cuts on our services locally, it’s unfair that we should be having to meet the bill for this expensive road.”
Moray Council finally submitted a planning application earlier this month following years of wrangling. If approved, it will link the town’s retail park on Edgar Road with the main A96 Inverness-Aberdeen road.
Supporters say it is vital to ease increasing congestion around the town.
They also argue it will bring more shoppers and new businesses into Elgin.
However, the road has also drawn a wave of protest from others, who claim it is a waste of money, given that the Scottish Government has already promised the town a bypass by 2030.
Opponents say the cash should not be spent on a needless project while Moray Council is battling to cut spending by £20million over the next three years.
Last night’s meeting was organised by the Designing Streets Action Group, which was set up to campaign against the road.
Members have also staged two well-attended protest marches in the town against the plans.
Jim Wiseman, another leading member of the group, said: “I am against it in principle because I don’t think there is a sound economic basis that has been stated clearly enough so that people can understand it.
“What we’re doing tonight is laying out plans and showing people what’s proposed beside them and where it concerns them.
“If they want to object, they will have the opportunity to do so.
“The main part of the scheme is basically a road from A to B as quickly as possible with very little consideration for the surrounding residents in the two areas.”
A presentation was also given at the meeting summarising the main proposals contained in the planning application, which runs to well over 400 pages.
The planning application can be viewed on Moray Council’s website.
The public – objectors and supporters – have until May 17 to formally submit their opinions on it. It is anticipated that the planning application will go before elected members for consideration later this year.