Campaigners have called upon the Scottish Government to abandon its consultation on the A96 Aberdeen to Huntly dualling project.
They want officials to rip up what has been done so far and go back to the drawing board – this time with dualling the existing road as an option.
The A96 Action Group is demanding their preferred choice be reconsidered and that for creating a new road through the countryside be set aside.
Earlier this year, Transport Scotland revealed its reduced shortlist for improving the 26-mile section of the A96 as part of a multi-million pound project to dual the 88 miles between Inverness and Aberdeen.
Its ongoing consultation aims to find out what local residents, road users and businesses think about the proposals, which include new roads both north and south of Inverurie.
The A96 Action Group has, however, now written to Scottish Government transport secretary Michael Matheson demanding he call an immediate halt to the consultation and re-start it with dualling along the existing route as an option.
Lorna Anderson, the chairwoman of the action group, said: “Climate change is a serious issue, as recognised by the Scottish Government in their declaration of a climate emergency.
“Both the violet and orange routes now fly in the face of Scottish Government policy, are hugely damaging, and would emit carbon dioxide emissions three-to-five times greater than dualling online through Inverurie.
“Local feeling supports our stance that road safety and efficiency can be improved with less environmental damage, less cost and in a fraction of the time it would take to construct a 14.5km (9 miles) road to the north and east of Inverurie.”
A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: “The Scottish Government is committed to dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen, underlining its commitment to connecting Scotland’s cities with a high-quality transport system that will generate sustainable economic growth.
“As part of this commitment, we are progressing the design work for the East of Huntly to Aberdeen stretch of the route.
“Having let local residents see and comment on the initial options last October, we held further engagement events in May for the remaining options being taken forward to the next stage of the design.
“More than 1,300 people took the opportunity to come along and view the material, with about 800 written responses received.
“It is important that we take time to consider all the feedback received, including that from the A96 Action Group, as we take forward the options assessment process.”