Mairi Evans MSP has paid tribute to Laurencekirk flyover campaigner Jill Fotheringham for her dogged 13-year-long battle to get the green light for a new £24 million road.
Montrose-based Jill has campaigned for more than a decade for a grade-separated junction to improve safety at the Laurencekirk junction of the A90.
And with Transport Scotland and Amey consulting over the initial designs for the flyover last Friday, Angus North and Mearns MSP Ms Evans is thrilled that Jill’s wishes are being granted.
Ms Evans, who is also an Angus Councillor, has heard numerous deputations from Jill in the Angus Council chamber and at Holyrood and helped ensure the petition for the junction stayed open with the Scottish Parliament.
Ms Evans said: “I want to thank Jill Fotheringham for all the work she has done on this. She has never given up.
“It’s in no small part to her that this junction is happening.
“For well over 10 years she has campaigned for this and she must be delighted to actually see that this is going to happen.
“She has never given up. She kept it high on every political agenda – from local authority level to Scottish Government level – and campaigned until people listened.
“Her determination to make sure this was one issue that wouldn’t go away is the reason we are now finally seeing this progress.
“I sit on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at the Scottish Parliament and the Laurencekirk junction has come forward to that.
“Jill raised her petition to us and we have made sure that petition stayed open and I want to keep it open until people see it coming together.
“The design stage is the first part of that.
“It gave people the chance to come along and meet Transport Scotland and Amey to raise any concerns they have.
“This can help us get it right and the wider public – Laurencekirk, Angus and Aberdeenshire – all need consulted.
“The design process helps involve the community and, categorically assures them that the junction is going ahead.”
Jill said: “I would like to thank Mairi for her words,
“If I had had my way the junction would have been upgraded years ago but I’m really pleased that it is finally coming.
“I found the meeting on Friday reassuring that it is on track and the real deal rather than another pointless exercise that we have seen so often before and I hope it gave clarity to all who attended.
“To me, my part in this process has been small and I have had a lot if help along the way.”
Supporters of the plan – launched at the Dickson Memorial Hall – in Laurencekirk believe that the new road will not only be safer but will provide a gateway to Angus, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen.
If there are no objections, the Scottish Government funded project could be completed by 2021.
Ms Evans added: “Even after the funding for the road was announced, there was a lot of anxiety and some disbelief over the fact that this was actually happening.
“But it is happening and I believe it will have wide benefits.
“Even though this is being built in Aberdeenshire, it’s something that will have a massive impact on Angus.
“The current road layout inhibits development in Angus. It inhibits development in Montrose, which has a knock-on impact on Brechin and other parts of Angus.
“There are a lot of people from Montrose and throughout Angus who use that junction every day to commute up and down to Aberdeen.
“We have had a lot of business interest in Montrose that has been restricted for a long time because of the limitations of the junction.
“For safety, foremost, it’s important this junction is built but it is also a big boost for the wider economic development of Aberdeenshire and Angus. “