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Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 19:02:41 +0000
Subject: [AWPR Petition] - AWPR petition

Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route

AWPR petition follow-up - November 2006

Dear Supporter,

I am writing to thank you for signing my petition. You may have heard that it was the second largest e-petition ever, which is pretty significant since the AWPR is a very local issue. Including paper signatures collected in the last month of the petition, the number comes to 4860.

I went to state my case before the Petitions Committee on 6th September, accompanied by Dave Robb from Road Sense and Gregor McAbery from Friends of the Earth. It was a somewhat intimidating experience for all of us but we did very well. After I had given a short spoken introduction we were questioned by the 7 MSPs of the committee.

The salient points which got an airing were: the 1996 Oscar Faber study “Sustainable Transport for Aberdeen” which concluded that the best solution would be investment in public transport rather than a bypass ­ it was promptly shelved by Aberdeen City Council and never heard of again. At the insistence of one of the committee members, however, the committee agreed to look at that study again. They also indicated that they would look at the various SACTRA (Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment) reports we mentioned, some of which cast a bad light on the AWPR in terms of economic and induced traffic issues.

We managed to state clearly that we were extremely sceptical about the cost of the project. At the end of the session, one of the MSPs was heard to remark that for that money they could build a new Forth road bridge.

We mentioned the un-minuted meeting of 14th November 2005 at which the decision for the new route was taken by the Transport Minister; this drew the committee’s interest and they indicated that they would look into it.

Best of all, the committee convener indicated that he would have no objection to this petition going before the Transport Committee and that the Petitions Committee would gather all the necessary information and look at the various studies.

The Committee is now seeking the views of all the agencies involved in this project, with a deadline of 8th December. It will then communicate these views to myself and depending on my response, the Committee will then take the petition forward.

The petition has achieved what it set out to do, namely that the issue of the AWPR was kept in the public eye, that there was some debate and that we got a hearing before Parliament. The further exchanges I will have with the Committee will give us opportunity for further publicity and comment.

As many of you will know, the next step in this saga is the issuing of draft road orders, which is scheduled to happen in December. There will then be an objection period of around six weeks, though it looks likely that this will be extended, especially if it falls into the Christmas/New Year period, this fact has even been stated in the Press and Journal.

It is absolutely vital that a maximum number of objections are raised and that they are of substance. With the help of Friends of the Earth and Road Sense, a list of possible objection points will be issued and widely circulated so that people can write their own letter, choosing the points they feel strongly about. It is important that husbands and wives should write a letter each.

Whereas back in May, the Transport Minister was still talking about a “possible” Public Local Inquiry, it is now all but certain that there will be one and that it will likely take place in the autumn of next year. The greater the number of substantiated objections, the greater will be the chance that this project will be scrutinised and that alternatives will be investigated. As the AWPR is a political rather than a practical project the real battle will be in the court of public opinion, therefore, objections in their thousands will ensure a high profile and real debate.

Thank you again for your participation. Please write a letter of objection when the time comes in January and get your family and friends to write one, too. I feel confident that we will be able to get this project reconsidered and real solutions investigated.

With best wishes

Paddy Imhof

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