The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Bypass Route is a proposed 46km stretch of dual carriageway that will cross over the River Dee. The road was opposed by local residents because it will damage land that is currently protected by European environmental legislation. However after years of campaigning the group now have serious concerns about the way the planning process has been conducted.
In December 2005 it was announced that the Aberdeen WPR would follow a route that was not one of the original five routes that went out for public consultation in Spring 2005.
Road Sense a group that represents the community has now made a formal complaint to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNCE) about the way the route was selected and the manner in which the Public Inquiry into the AWPR was conducted.
Road Sense have said that the Scottish Government restricted the scope and circumstances of the Public Inquiry in a way that was contrary to European law on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters . It also stresses that there is effectively no access for the public in Scotland to an open and inexpensive review procedure before a court of law to challenge the substantive and procedural legality of the AWPR.
They have also lodged a complaint with the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals over the handling of the public inquiry.
Roadsense also questions the validity of the inquiry because the Scottish Government has already stated in several documents that the AWPR will be built by 2012, making the results of the public inquiry look as if they are a foregone conclusion.
Planning Democracy says “Groups like Roadsense demonstrate how frustrated the public have become about the lack of fairness and transparency in the planning process and how far people are willing to go to get justice. The Government should be aware of the increasing number of groups prepared to make legal challenges to undemocratic decisions”
UPDATE (22/02/10): The Government have now accepted the Reporter’s decision to approve the AWPR. The plans will now go before committee and the Parliament for approval or rejection sometime in early-March. RoadSense are still awaiting news on their complaint to the EU on the manner in which the Scottish Government chose the route and consulted communities.
UPDATE (22/11/11): In April 2010 Road Sense lodged a challenge by judicial review to the lawfulness of Scottish Ministers’ decision to approve the new road. The grounds identified for the legal challenge include Scottish Ministers’ decision to restrict the scope and remit of the AWPR Public Local Inquiry and violation of the European Habitats Directive. They also sought a cap on their legal fees following the first Protective Costs Order in Scotland awarded to Marco McGinty while challenging Hunterston’s inclusion in the NPF. The judicial review is ongoing and we will publish a report on its completion.
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