Campaigners welcome new option for A96 dualling project

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A route for the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness dualling project which would avoid an Aberdeenshire landmark is now being considered following a vocal campaign to protect it.

Transport Scotland is working on plans to dual the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road between the city and Huntly.

Two of the potential options which are currently being considered would result in the busy road passing close to Bennachie Forest, prompting a backlash from the local community who use the mountain and woodlands for dog walking, biking and more.

The Save Bennachie group was established last year by concerned residents in response to the proposals, and it has received support from north-east MSPs from all political parties.

And now, a week after the Save Bennachie campaigners were invited to Holyrood by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin to discuss their concerns, Transport Scotland and contractors Amey Arup have confirmed another possible route dubbed option Q will be looked at.

The option Q route, which was initially proposed as an option, would take the Aberdeen to Huntly section of the A96 along the path of the A947 Dyce to Oldmeldrum road, and then to Glens of Foudland.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Following the appointment last July of a design consultant for the section between east of Huntly and Aberdeen, the route options assessment work is now underway and we expect to consult later this year on the options which are developed with a view to identifying a preferred option for the route in 2019.

“We are at the early stages of the design and assessment process and no route options have been identified yet.

“As we develop options for this section over the coming months we will listen to the feedback received to date, including those in relation to improvement strategy option Q.

“Engagement will continue as we progress our plans, and we will ensure that communities, businesses and individuals affected by the work are kept fully informed and their vital feedback taken into account.”

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “I am delighted option Q is to be reconsidered by Transport Scotland and Amey Arup.

“Bennachie is an iconic landmark which is a loved part of the Aberdeenshire landscape.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure all other options are considered.”