ANGUS North and Mearns MSP Nigel Don attended Mearns Community Council for the first time on Monday and its members left him in no doubt as to the overwhelming desire locally for grade separation on the A90 at Laurencekirk.
Just days after Transport Scotland announced that a flyover at Laurencekirk’s southern junction would cost a minimum of £13.5 million, the community council queried the figure and asked Mr Don to find out how much the flyovers further north on the A90 at Portlethen had cost.
Commenting on the £13.5 million figure, community council chairman David Nelson said that there was no way that developers could be expected to fund that sum and that building a flyover had to be the responsibility of the government.
Mr Don admitted that this was a big sum of money and told members: “I have had long conversations with ministers and officials and there is no doubt that they understand the feelings of the community.
“There has been a petition which is still with the petitions committee and Transport Minister Keith Brown visited Laurencekirk.
“I was told that there are other priorities around Scotland and the capital project spend on roads is quite small.
“The junction is safer now than it was before, but nobody believes is is safe, it is inherantly dangerous.
“There is no cash there and we can’t borrow it so we must go the planning route. The forthcoming meeting with the Local Plan reporter is a chance to get him or her to understand that there can be no more development in Laurencekirk without getting this junction sorted.
“It then would be up to the council and the government to sort something out.
“£13.5 million is too big a sum to get from Section 75 agreements and anyway we need a flyover before they build the first house.
“The council may have to do some fancy footwork and the government might come up with bits and pieces.
“If the AWPR does not go ahead, there may be some money to go somewhere else.
“The UK Goverment may decide to allow some capital expenditure throughout the UK and we would get our share. If there was the slightest chance of that everyone would be in there with projects.
“It might come down to a bit of patience and hope that we eventually get there.”
Councillor George Carr said there was merit in tying the junction in with the AWPR to get economies of scale. Mr Don said Alex Johnstone MSP already suggested that and was told no.
Provost Bill Howatson said: “Aberdeenshire Council is not adverse to partnership, but 90% of our funding comes from government and our capital funding has been cut. I would like to know how this figure of £13.5 million was arrived at.”
Mr Don replied that the figure was accurate as he had spoken to civil engineers who agreed with it.
“If we were issuing the contract now I have no doubt it would be for less, but that is because there would be an optimism built in.”
Alan Mowat argued that the £13.5 million figure was no more than pie in the sky.
“We should not just accept this figure and let it become the official cost of a flyover.
“I would like to know how much the flyovers cost at Portlethen. Add on inflation for two years of something like 2% and that is your figure. That is what a flyover costs. The physical facts are there.”
Mr Don agreed to find out exactly how much the Portlethen flyovers cost, but added that the issue was a complex one taking into account land purchase etc.
Jim Stuart said a comparison should also be made with the flyover at Glenfarg. He suggested that the land down there was similar to Laurencekirk.