‘Deal’ funds to target better transport links

Calls have been intensifying for improved transport links north of Ellon.
Calls have been intensifying for improved transport links north of Ellon.

Scottish Government cash is set to be freed up from the City Region Deal projects towards improving transport links north of Ellon.

The UK and Scottish Governments are investing £504 million in the North-east.

That is a very positive outcome for Aberdeenshire

Cllr Richard Thomson Aberdeenshire Council Co-Leader

Aberdeenshire Council co-leader Richard Thomson, who described the package as “a very positive outcome for Aberdeenshire”, said rail projects in the deal would allow funds to be directed to the improvement of transport links to Peterhead and Fraserburgh through Ellon.

But North East Scotland Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes warned that more detailed plans would be required specifically outlining how the money was to be spent.

Westminster and Holyrood are ploughing in £125 million each, with the Scottish Government contributing £254 million of additional support.

Councillor Thomson, who represents Ellon and District, said: “I very much welcome the City Region Deal - and the additional commitments which have been made by the Scottish Government for more affordable housing and improved broadband throughout the North-east.

“Approval for the upgrading of the East Coast line and the development of the Laurencekirk junction has freed up money from the Scottish Government which is to be directed towards improving transport links to Peterhead and Fraserburgh through Ellon.

“That is a very positive outcome for Aberdeenshire, and will provide the level of investment required to produce an infrastructure fit for the 21st Century.”

However, Ms McInnes sounded a note of caution.

She said: ““Once the dust has settled after this announcement, we need to see more detailed plans from both governments, partner bodies like Nestrans and the councils specifically outlining how this money will be used.”

Ellon and District Councillor Rob Merson, who has campaigned for the reopening of the Formartine/Buchan rail link, said he was not surprised local rail and road projects were not mentioned.

He added: “Although we are still in the relatively early stages of formulating the development package which this will enable, I am greatly encouraged that both Governments will work with the local authorities to explore how the strategic transport investments will be prioritised.

“However, I am not surprised that the Formartine/Buchan rail link has not been mentioned as a specific project within the City Region Deal at this juncture.

“That is one of a number of proposals which have been consulted on in the multi-modal transport survey which is being conducted by Nestrans.

“It would therefore have been entirely inappropriate for the City Region Deal to pre-empt that consultation by announcing a preference for a specific proposal – which is why neither the re-opening of the Formartine/Buchan rail link, nor the dualling of the A90 north of Ellon were identified.”

The results of the Nestrans survey are due to be published in a few weeks.

Ellon and Distict Councillor Gillian Owen, who is spearheading the Why Stop at Ellon? initiative, said: “The City Region Deal is a huge investment in the North-east and must be welcomed by all.

“I am, however, disappointed that the dualling of the A90 from Ellon to Peterhead/Fraserburgh has not been included. I understand that is only recently been added to the agenda and it will take time but the fight goes on.”

Nestrans director Derick Murray said: “Both the £250 million City Region Deal and the additional £254million announced by the Scottish Government will pave the way for significant improvements to the region’s transport infrastructure.

“Whilst there are no specific projects planned to the north of Aberdeen at this time, there are a large number of projects under construction already which will open up this area.”