The chairman of Aberdeen FC said his club’s Kingsford stadium ambitions would not be stopped by protestors as diggers rolled in to start work on the £50 million project.
Earthworks on the 2.7 million square foot of land between Westhill and Kingswells began yesterday, paving the way for the first phase of construction to commence in October.
This will include a training pavilion, groundsman’s accommodation and seven pitches to be shared between the club and its community trust (AFCCT).
Construction of the facilities, which are valued at £10 million, is expected to be completed by summer 2019. Work on the 20,000-seater stadium itself – the key part of phase two – will begin thereafter.
Manager Derek McInnes took part in a sod-cutting ceremony with club chairman Stewart Milne, AFCCT chief executive Ally Prockter and Lord Provost Barney Crockett.
He hailed it as a “hugely significant milestone”.
The Dons boss said: “I have been campaigning for better facilities so there’s a huge sense of relief and excitement today to see work beginning on site.”
Objectors to the plans are poised to launch a legal challenge against them, claiming the planning application breached green belt and council development policies.
The application was put on hold in October, then was approved by Aberdeen City Council in January.
The No Kingsford Stadium (NKS) group has until July 22 to launch a £70,000 judicial review into the decision.
In a statement, a spokesman said: “Please be assured that any work starting does not mean that this is game over.
“It is far from it.
“We are fully committed to bringing this case to court via the judicial review process.”
Mr Milne is standing firm in his belief that the club followed the correct procedures and that the move will not derail the plans.
He said: “There’s nothing we can do about the judicial review.
“It’ll go on in the background while we get the site ready for building.
“Even if they are successful with the review – which will be a lengthy and costly journey for them – at the end of the day, we would only have to stop the project for a matter of months, while we go back in and re-process the planning application.
“It’s a costly exercise for them to create hurdles and frustration but if that’s the decision they make, we’ve got to live with that.”