Aberdeen stalled in the slow lane

The recent letter by Aberdeen area business leaders to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson is a plea that most of us in Aberdeen City and Shire will relate to.

For years we have watched infrastructure developments take place across Scotland, but not in this area.

Not only is Europe’s Offshore Energy capital some 87 miles away from the UK motorway network. Not only does it still not have a by-pass. But, the final trunk road link for the city and the whole of North Aberdeenshire is over a mediaeval bridge with a seven-foot width restriction!

Not what you would expect for the world’s second largest upstream oil centre!

Aberdeen 87 miles from motorway
Europe’s Offshore Energy Capital remains 87 miles from the motorway network

The people of Stavanger must laugh at us... in fact, I know they do! There the government has invested heavily to ensure that their oil capital has the most competitive infrastructure on which to build a strong future for the economy.

Now – just when it seemed that we might finally be getting some long overdue support from government – it seems that everything has stalled in the slow lane, once again.

  • The Aberdeen bypass (the AWPR) which was promised by this government for 2012, has not yet started – even though the opening year is less than 18 months away!
  • Similarly, improvements to the notorious Haudagain Roundabout, delays at which are estimated to cost the local economy between £15 and £30 million a year in delays, are going nowhere fast.
  • The A90 to Peterhead has stalled.
  • The A96 to Inverness has also stalled, with even the Inveramsey Bridge not yet replaced.
  • At the time when the talk is of three-hour train times from Edinburgh or Glasgow to London, it take almost as long for the Aberdeen train to chug to the world’s number two oil industry centre!
  • Aberdeen Airport, despite having planning permission, has still not implemented the runway extension to open up the opportunities for more direct international flights to other global oil centres.
  • The airport itself is poorly connected to the local transport networks.
  • The new railway station at Aberdeenshire’s fastest growing town, Kintore, was scheduled for re-opening in 2009. Oh, well, missed that by a mile!

We are all aware that we are in a period of restricted public spending.

But these are all projects that are in the pipeline and recognised as being essential if Aberdeen is to continue to perform its role as the UK’s internationally-recognised world energy city.

Remember that the Aberdeen is at the centre of an industry that is the UK’s most important industrial investor, supporting half a million jobs and contributing around one third of all UK corporation tax receipts, and you might just begin to realise that urgent action on the infrastructure should actually be a top national priority.

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