Landowner demands answers after AWPR workers block off half his farm

Angus and Caroline McNicoll at their farm. (Picture: Colin Rennie)

A landowner has slammed Aberdeen bypass workers for blocking access to his farm for a week.

Angus McNicoll claims the drainage works at Blakiewell Farm, on the outskirts of the city, was left looking like a “bomb” had gone off.

And his frustrations mounted when he discovered the trench dug by contractors meant access to the east side of his farm – which has been split in two to make way for the bypass – was cut off.

It is the latest in a long-list of complaints from residents living near the various bypass sites across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, with issues ranging from the noisy overnight works to heavy lorries damaging the roads.

Mr McNicoll claims contractors Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) failed to provide an alternative route for farm traffic, despite promises to maintain access until the bypass is built.

With his tenant farmer keen to get on with cutting the silage in preparation for the winter, Mr McNicoll and his wife Caroline went to the contractor’s Stonehaven office and refused to leave until the issue was addressed.

The construction team attempted to improve access over the weekend – but only left enough space for a 4×4 to get through, meaning the farmer still could not access the fields with his tractor and combine harvester.

Mr McNicoll – who faces a two-mile detour to each side of his farm at Blairs as a result of the bypass – again complained and the issue has now finally been resolved.

But he admitted he no longer trusted what transport chiefs said, and raised concerns there would be more problems in the future.

“They told us that they were building a new drainage system but said they would put in place metal plates to allow us to drive over and they have failed to do that – we just don’t believe what we are being told,” he said.

“The farmer phoned me last week and told me about the trench and I visited the first chance I got on Friday night. It looked like a bomb had dropped on it.

“He says he is now going to give it a go and try and get through the improved access.

“The problem is every time I speak with senior management at Transport Scotland they change their story.

“For example, we were promised full working access 24-hours per day and seven days per week.

“We were told that this would continue until a new access road has been constructed and that we would be given 14 days notice when the temporary access is to be closed. Clearly these conditions were totally breached last week.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman last night apologised for the disruption, and described the blocked access as an “oversight”.

He added: “We require ARL, the project contractor, to maintain access at all times in these situations. Due to an oversight, ARL has advised us that it severed access to one of the fields at Blakiewell Farm.

“ARL was notified of this issue on Friday June 16, and resolved the access provision within 24 hours.

“ARL would like to extend its apologies for any inconvenience caused.”

Mr and Mrs McNicoll previously raised concerns about the impact the bypass, which they did not oppose, has had on their lives.

They claim the land that they sold as part of a compulsory purchase order was under-valued when compared with neighbouring sites that was sold.

There has been a public outcry as a result of the disruption caused by the bypass works.

Last week, a Marywell resident became so fed up with overnight works that she “snapped” and forced a halt by standing in front of a digger.

Dianne Davidson is one of several residents who claimed their lives were being made a misery by all-hours operations close to the Charleston flyover section of the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee.

And in January, the under-pressure Transport Minister Humza Yousaf was forced to come to Aberdeen to meet angry landowners, including the McNicolls, at a public meeting in the Cults Hotel.