Campaigners battling to save iconic landmark from new A96 route meet with Scottish transport minister

Save Bennachie campaigners met with Michael Matheson MSP to discuss the controversial A96 dualling proposals.
Save Bennachie campaigners met with Michael Matheson MSP to discuss the controversial A96 dualling proposals.

Campaigners battling to protect one of the north-east’s most iconic landmarks have taken their fight back to Holyrood.

The Save Bennachie Alliance was launched to pressure transport chiefs to scrap proposals for the dualling of the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road, between the Granite City and Huntly, that would mean a route through Bennachie.

Multiple road options are being considered by Transport Scotland’s consultants for a 26-mile stretch but one would pass just feet away from the beloved hill’s visitor centre.

This week the campaigners met with Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, who took over the role in June, at the Scottish Parliament.

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North-east MSPs Alexander Burnett, Gillian Martin, Mike Rumbles, Peter Chapman and Tom Mason were also in attendance at the meeting.

Margaret Garden, one of the campaign members, said: “We had an excellent discussion with the minister and we are grateful for his time.

“He took a close interest in the points we had to make about the environment, traffic management and the public amenity value of Bennachie.

“We emphasised that while the road undoubtedly needs to be upgraded, there are better options which don’t impact on Bennachie.

“We hope the minister will take up our invitation to visit Bennachie. We want to protect this outstanding landscape for generations to come.

“Bennachie has been recognised as a special place for hundreds of years. Our grandchildren, and their grandchildren, will not forgive us if we allow it to be spoiled on our watch.

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“We demonstrated to the minister that this is a decision which is so close to Aberdeenshire hearts that it has united all our MSPs across the political spectrum.”

Mr Matheson has confirmed public consultations on the route will be held before the winter with a view to picking a route next year.

He said: “I was delighted to meet with members of the Save Bennachie Alliance at Parliament and to hear their views.

“Meaningful engagement with communities and local groups forms an important part of the work that we undertake to develop our plans.”