Scotland's road building projects opposed

Two of Scotland's major road-building projects are being opposed on grounds of public health, destruction of greenbelt and waste of public money.

Friends of the Earth Scotland have said that both the Aberdeen bypass and Glasgow's M74 motorway extension are un-necessary and environmentally damaging.

Figures published this week by the group say that the M74 will cost taxpayers £180 million in compulsory purchase orders as buildings and land will have to be bought up along the route.

So far, the Executive has spent almost £100 million on deals.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "We already know that the M74 will be bad for the environment, damage communities and won't solve Glasgow's traffic problems. Today, we are exposing the true cost of the folly. The Executive is in the process of a staggering £180 million give-away to companies to shut down or move, just to make way for five miles more of tarmac."

FOE claim the whole case for the M74 has been based on a series of "bogus and misleading job claims". The group says that a public inquiry into the road building project found that any employment created would cost the tax-payer around £100,000 per job.

In addition, the group has published a letter from a group of health experts opposing the route of the proposed Aberdeen bypass.

The proposed route would go directly through the grounds of a world renowned special needs school, threatening 60 years of pioneering work.

In the open letter to Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, the experts call on the Executive to "lift the threat" hanging over the heads of children and adults living in the grounds.

FOE is campaigning against all of the five routes proposed for the scheme, which, it says, will cost between £210 and £405 million.

"The scheme's real aim is to carve up Aberdeen's greenbelt for development rather than providing a transport system to benefit people in the north east. The entire process behind this has been a sham from the start. The public consultation only offered respondents the choice of one of five road options and failed to offer any solutions that did not involve a new road," added McClaren.

"The political decision to proceed with this project without having properly evaluated the alternatives flies in the face of the Executive's commitments to examine sustainable alternatives to road-building."

He said that the new road would increase traffic, worsen pollution and add to climate change.

David Hopkins



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