A GROUP fighting the proposed Elgin Western Link Road will again pound the streets on October 12, having organised a second march to protest against the £8.5 million route.
The Saturday lunchtime march will fall almost exactly one year after the Elgin Designing Streets Action Group organised a similar event in 2012, which attracted hundreds of protesters.
The announcement comes the same week as Moray Council has hosted a two-day information session in Elgin Library, to outline its final plans for the road and obtain public feedback, before a planning application is submitted later this year.
Moray Council has described the route as a “key element” of the transport infrastructure that will support Moray’s economic development.
Caroline Webster, chair of the Elgin Designing Streets Action Group, said the message of protesters will be clear.
“We are against the cost of the proposed Elgin Western Link Road,” she said. “We are basically saying that small improvements to the existing roads network are what is required, especially in light of all these (council) cuts that have been mentioned.
“We still don’t understand what the benefits are, and the council has not been able to properly articulate what they believe the benefits will be.
“There is also the huge material change with announcements over the dualling of the A96, and we think that will have a significant change in the development of Elgin and its travel patterns.”
The group decided to stage the march after learning that the council was staging its two-day exhibition.
The march – starting at 11.45am – will take protesters from Glen Moray Drive, along the Wards, across the railway line onto Wards Road, along to Station Road and on to Hay Street. They will then head down to Northfield Terrace, and along the High Street to the Plainstones.
During its exhibition this week, Moray Council described the Elgin Western Link Road as addressing many transport needs in the town.
The link road will provide various improvements, according to the council, including a link between the A96 Trunk Road and Edgar Road; provision of access to development land approved in the Moray Local Plan (2008); and provision of a further crossing of the Aberdeen to Inverness railway line.
The scheme is not intended to be part of a bypass, the council says, with traffic surveys undertaken in 2007 indicating the majority of traffic in Elgin is starting or ending its journey within the town centre, while only 25% bypasses Elgin. A bypass would have limited connections into Elgin and would therefore not address the congestion issues within the town centre, according to the local authority.
The design of the proposed scheme requires the demolition of two houses on Wittet Drive, as well as “a substantial landtake” from another. Numerous other properties on Wittet Drive, Mayne Road and Wards Road would also have areas of their gardens acquired by the council to accommodate the new road.
Earlier this year, Moray councillors approved the use of a compulsory purchase order to acquire the land necessary for the new road, but the council has said it is hopeful that negotiations with landowners will remove the need for compulsory acquisition.
More information on the proposed Western Link Road is available at http:/www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_76809.html