MSP calls for Bennachie to be protected during A96 planning phase

North East MSP Mike Rumbles
North East MSP Mike Rumbles

North East MSP Mike Rumbles has called on the Scottish Government to guarantee that Aberdeenshire’s iconic Bennachie will protected throughout the development process for dualling the A96.

The Liberal Democrat MSP quizzed Economy Secretary Keith Brown on the issue yesterday, after concerns were raised by the Save Bennachie campaign group earlier this week.

During a session of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Mr Rumbles voiced concerns about the route for the upgraded A96 being planned in isolation, highlighting that ‘desk top studies’ would not be appropriate for the area, given the iconic nature and unspoilt countryside around Bennachie.

The Minister and officials assured members that Bennachie and other local issues are being taken into account, throughout the different stages of the project.

Mr Rumbles said: “I’m pleased that the Minister has acknowledged the importance of protecting the countryside around the mountain and addressed the concerns raised by the Save Bennachie campaign group, but he fell short of guaranteeing that the final route would not cut through untouched landscape.

“The A96 dualling is an important project for the area but I have no doubt that it can be delivered in good time without having a negative impact on the natural environment and local communities, but only if the Scottish Government takes the time to listen to local people and has the will to plan in a proper and thoughtful way."