North-east politician backs campaign to protect landmark from dualling plans

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A north-east politician has backed a campaign to protect a local landmark from plans to upgrade one of the region’s busiest roads.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett has formally given his support to the Save Bennachie enterprise, which hopes to protect views from the cherished hill against plans to dual the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness.

Transport Scotland is currently considering route options for the infrastructure project for the road between the city and Huntly, though it will be 2019 before a “preferred option” is identified.

Proposals being considered by the organisation for the “eastern section” of the A96 include a dual carriageway from Blackburn to just north of Huntly, passing west of Inverurie and close to the Bennachie Forest.

Conservative member, Mr Burnett, has written to Economy Secretary Keith Brown in support of the Save Bennachie initiative.

He said: “The affinity for Bennachie among the north-east public cannot be overstated.

“There are a number of options being considered, but there is a very strong case to be made for making sure Bennachie and the surrounding area is protected.

“Aside from the value to visitors and the local community, there are also safety and environmental reasons for choosing a route that is not over higher ground.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030, improving journey times and reliability and improved road safety.

“We are currently at the very early stages of the design and assessment process for this section, with no route options yet developed.

“But, at all times, we will aim to balance the delivery of the route with the need to take account of local concerns.