A north-east MP believes data revealing the AWPR has slashed city centre pollution strengthens the case for dualling the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road along the existing route.
On Monday, the Press and Journal revealed that nitrogen dioxide rates have hit their lowest level in recent years on Union Street, Market Street, King Street and Anderson Drive.
The drop correlates with the opening of the £745 AWPR earlier this year, which took thousands of motorists out of the heart of Aberdeen.
And now Gordon MP Colin Clark believes the findings could bolster the case for dualling the A96 on its existing route – arguing it would be faster and better for the environment.
Transport Scotland is currently considering a number of route options for the A96 project.
Mr Clark said: “The initial impact of the AWPR has been fantastic for the north-east and according to this data, is already helping to reduce emissions in the city centre.
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“Given the widespread concerns about climate change and air quality, this is very good news indeed.
“The question for SNP ministers and Transport Scotland when it comes to the A96 dualling is, simply, can we afford to wait?
“If the government listens to the campaigners in the Inverurie area and opts for online dualling along the existing route, then the road could be built now, rather than by 2030.
“That would reduce congestion in Inverurie, boosting the air quality, and limit the environmental damage of creating a new route through open countryside.
“I hope the Scottish Government will take on board the concerns of local residents on this issue, and look again at dualling the existing route.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “All major projects within the Scottish Government’s transport portfolio are subject to significant assessment work to ensure we deliver the right schemes and keep impacts on the environment to the absolute minimum, and our ambitious A96 dualling programme is no exception to that.
“We need to balance the extensive changes required to meet a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions with our duty to ensure that Scotland has high quality infrastructure to meet the needs of all our residents, businesses and visitors.”