THE election of an SNP member of parliament for Angus North and Mearns, as part of an SNP Government with a majority at Holyrood, should help bring about grade-separation on the A90 at Laurencekirk.
That was the view of Mearns Community Council chairman David Nelson as he looked ahead to a challenging year for the council and one which he has confirmed will be his last in the chair.
Mr Nelson was speaking as Transport Scotland announced they were seeking bids for the contract to create a slip lane at Laurencekirk’s north junction with the A90, at an estimated cost of £460,000.
At a recent meeting of the community council a member labelled the slip lane work as “a waste of money” saying that only grade-separation will provide a solution to the problems on the dual carriageway.
Mr Nelson commented: “Anything that improves road safety can never be described as a waste of money.
“A slip lane is desireable there as it is a T junction at the moment.
“There is an increasing amount of traffic on the road, particularly going north in the mornings.
“The problems at the north junction are not the same as at the south junction were there is more traffic seeking to cross.
“There are crossing warning lights already at the approach to the north junction, but I feel there is a need for a slip road so that traffic can join at speed.
“There are big tailbacks at the moment and traffic is trying to join the main road from a standing start.
“It is impossible to pick up speed quickly enough when there are two lanes of traffic coming at you at 70 mph.
“At least this new slip lane will improve that and personally I don’t believe it is a waste of money.
“Grade separation at the south junction has to remain the number one aspiration and I hope that now we have got an SNP member of parliament in an SNP government, he might have a bit more leverage.
“Mr Nigel Don is going to get his ears heavily bashed from now on, reminding him that this is the most notorious junction the whole length of the A90.
“We will see what he can do and I hope he will look after our best interests.
“It may be an advantage that he is part of the ruling party. It was my gut feeling that having a Lib-Dem MSP previously never did us any favours.
“The situation on the A90 is only going to get worse. The junction is a death trap in good weather and was even worse during the bad weather last winter.
“Elderly people in particular find it difficult to judge the speed of oncoming traffic and I feel the situation is quite desparate.”
The previous government took the view that developers would have to pay for a flyover at Laurencekirk, but Mr Nelson feels that is not realistic.
“Housing developers do not have that sort of liquidity in that they could come up with three or four million pounds up front.
“The government should come up with the money itself and if necessary recoup part of it from the developers.”
Mearns Community Council has a declared policy that it will oppose any large development within Laurencekirk until grade-separation is provided and that remains their position.
“We are always asked for our views when developments come forward and the four elected Aberdeenshire councillors know we will not support any development of over 50 houses until we get the proper roads infrastructure.”
The community council also wants a link road to be built to the west of Laurencekirk which would serve the proposed housing developments and take traffic off the High Street.
“Ideally a link road should be built first as without it there would be chaos with large lorries bringing in materials and using right angled junctions such as the one at Blackiemuir Avenue.”
As they enter their new session, Mearns Community Council are also looking for clear guidelines on windfarms.
“We need to be told how many wind turbines each community is expected to absorb. There are a great many windfarm applications coming forward and many would say it is over-proliferation.”
An extension has been proposed for the exisiting Tullo Windfarm, which already has seven turbines up and running.
“We are likely to discuss Tullo at our next meeting. It does not sit very easily with me that a year on from the development getting up and running they are coming back for more.
“I personally do not think there is much wrong with the turbines that are there at present, but I do not think we would want them all round us to both east and west.”