Local landowners threatening to hold up a badly-needed road improvement scheme have been urged to drop their complaints in case the delay costs lives.
Laurencekirk resident Jill Fotheringham has been campaigning for more than 16 years for changes at the junction between the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road and the A937 Laurencekirk to Montrose route.
The stretch has been the site of many accidents and near-misses over the years, including fatalities.
But there are fears that work to create a safety-boosting flyover could be delayed by a public inquiry if people continue to oppose the scheme.
One of the objectors, Aberdeenshire Council, has this week signalled it could soon be withdrawing its complaint.
Ms Fotheringham – a local florist who has spearheaded the fight for a grade-separated crossing since she saw the devastating impact on the family of a young driver killed there in 2004 – has urged the three other objectors, who are landowners in the area, to allow the project to proceed.
She said: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic news if Aberdeenshire Council will be pulling its objection.
“A public inquiry could hold the whole thing up for years to come, and if that goes ahead it would just be devastating for the community.
“So if Aberdeenshire Council’s issues are off the table that’s brilliant, and hopefully the other three complaints from objectors can be addressed quickly, making it so there’s no need at all for a public inquiry.
“I’m sure these objections are legitimate, but if they could possibly find it within themselves to reach an agreement they can help save lives.
“This is not just a run-of-the-mill thing that we’re doing here, this could save a life. A life is precious, and really, there is no amount of money you can put on a human life, none at all.”
Between October and December 2019, 1,753 motorists were caught over the 50mph speed limit on the A90 as it passes Laurencekirk – almost twice the number recorded speeding on the rest of the road, which is 70mph, during the same period.
A £24 million flyover project is currently in the works by Transport Scotland, however earlier this year it was revealed that four objections had been made to the proposals.
It has now emerged that Aberdeenshire Council and Nestrans believe a solution can be found to their concerns of allowing safe access to the homes south of the Oatyhill area and the local authority appears poised to drop its reservations.
Ms Fotheringham said of the objectors: “If they can get this resolved without it going to a public inquiry, it will make a huge difference and potentially prevent tragedy.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Both Aberdeenshire Council and Nestrans have committed to support the project and anticipate that a technical solution can be found to deliver the long awaiting junction improvement, and maintain safe access to the dwellings south of Oatyhill.”
A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said the Scottish Government is committed to completing the scheme “as soon as possible”.