More questions than answers thrown up?

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An exhibition of options for ‘Access to Laurencekirk,’ held in the Dickson Hall last month, has generated more questions than answers.

That’s according to local MSP Nigel Don, who said this week: “While it might have appeared that the exhibition was showing alternatives for solving the traffic problems, this is not actually the case.

“The seven packages were each labelled, ‘the tables show the key changes in traffic flow, journey time and queue length forecast in 2033, with traffic growth from currently-approved developments. The comparison is between the existing road network in 2033 and if Package X was constructed.’

“Subsequent correspondence has revealed that, ‘this guidance states that new development dependent on the proposed infrastructure improvement should not be included in the core economic assessment.’

“In other words, the numbers quoted ignore proposed, but not approved, developments in the north of the town, and elsewhere, such as Scotia Homes, Montrose Airfield and the major M1 site at the north of Laurencekirk.

‘‘Given that many, who will want to live in these homes, will be commuting to Aberdeen, we know that the traffic to and from the north will increase significantly. Incidentally, it is not clear why there should be any difference between the traffic now and that in 2033, if there is no development.

“But the main point is that we have not been shown anything which includes predicted traffic, as a result of planned and expected development, which makes you wonder what the study has even been about.

“I am told that ‘four future-year scenarios have been considered within the appraisal, ranging from committed development only, to full development plan aspirations and build-out rate, far exceeding those which are typical for the area. The appraisal report will present the results of all four scenarios.’

“This begs the question, ‘why weren’t we shown the figures?’ What is this consultation supposed to achieve, if it’s not looking seriously at the future, because we all know we’ve got a problem now?

“The good news is that package one, which just retains speed cameras, is immediately ruled out. It is also explicitly stated that the existing Scotia Homes proposal cannot be built without a grade separated junction at the south location, and so every other package includes this.

“Given the implications for total traffic flows on the High Street, a single flyover at the south junction might not be the best solution.

‘‘Packages four and five suggest an extension of the single carriageway road between the Marykirk and St Cyrus roads, offering the possibility of a grade separated junction further north, should we finish with only one.

“Packages six and seven, which have two flyovers, north and south, clearly represent the long-term preferred answer. However, I return to the main point which is that we have not yet been shown any projections of future traffic growth.

“Numbers suggest that there are about 600 vehicles turning into Laurencekirk from the north between 4 and 7pm. If we are to build, say, another 1000 homes in the north of the town, and half of them generate a commuting vehicle, that will almost double the number coming from Aberdeen.

“It seems to me, that without a look at the future year scenarios, we are not seriously being consulted at all.”