The blueprint for Aberdeenshire's future over the next 20 years could be “in trouble” if an appeal to overturn the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) is successful, according to the local authority’s leader.
Aberdeenshire Council leader, and leader of the local conservative group, Jim Gifford made the admission as the Aberdeenshire Alliance - a coalition between the Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and independent councillors – launched its five-year plan for the area.
He said the road – which would bypass Aberdeen on the A90 - was “critical” to plans to build new homes in towns in the north-east and Gordon.
Mr Gifford said: “Everything to the west and north is very much restricted because of the lack of the AWPR.
“The Local Development Plan was signed off just last week and it says time and time again ‘this cannot be delivered without the AWPR’ so that is now critical for us.
“[If the appeal is successful the LDP is] in trouble in one word, because we cannot build more houses in places like Ellon and Inverurie and expect the people there to sit in ever increasing traffic jams to get to Aberdeen - we just can’t do it.
“The Scottish Government would have to go back to the drawing board. They would have to find a way of delivering it.”
However, the alliance refused to write-off the LDP in the case that Mr Walton’s appeal is successful.
Liberal Democrat group leader Martin Kitts-Hayes said: “I think we are a bit more optimistic than that to be honest. This whole process needs to come to a conclusion. Talk about democracy where you have one individual holding up the whole of the development plan. Is that democracy, I’m not quite sure.
“We need to get to the point where we can move forward and develop what 99% of the people of Aberdeenshire have asked us to do.”
Mr Gifford pointed out that other projects in Aberdeenshire including the dualling for the A90 from Tippery-Balmedie are also tied into the AWPR contract and vital to the north-east economy.
The £400m route is currently being contested in the courts by campaigners RoadSense, lead by William Walton.
The near 30-mile road -known as the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) - was given approval by Scottish ministers in 2009 following a public consultation which Road Sense claims was flawed.
Mr Walton recently hired a new legal team headed by QC Aidan O'Neill – who led the legal team in the landmark Cadder case which secured the right of suspects in Scotland to have access to a solicitor in a police station. The case will be heard at the Supreme Court on London next month.
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