FOI Request - Western Link Road and Moray By Pass Debate
Please furnish me with details of correspondence between Moray Council and the Scottish Office in which the latter emphasised the By-Pass would only be sanctioned on that basis (press article 18 October 2013 'in particular your assertion that the Scottish Government had insisted the provision of an Elgin By Pass was contingent upon Moray Council addressing the infrastructure problems within Elgin First. The Western Link Road Plan, by implication , represents the Council's attempt to resolve these issues.'). Alternatively provide me with the Department of the Scottish Government and the name of the official responsible for the statement.
Particularly interested to learn the following:
1. Does the Scottish Government insistence that Moray Council address infrastructure issues as a precursor to providing the announced By-Pass remain valid, or has that body decided to By-Pass Elgin without reference to the resolution of perceived infrastructure issues?
2. Alternatively, has Moray Council assured the Scottish Government that the Western Link Road will be driven through regardless of opposition, and on this basis the Scottish Government has announced the provision of a By-Pass?
The “statement” to which you refer was made by Tavish Scott MSP whilst he was Minister for Transport on his visit to Elgin in August 2006. The word “insistence” was not used, but when Mr Scott was given a presentation of the current road proposals in the Moray Council offices at that time, with various community representatives and the press present, he responded with encouraging words for a possible Elgin Bypass in the future, but clearly made the point that the Government would expect the Moray Council to “do their bit” (my words not his) and deliver their planned proposals to deal with local traffic if they expected the Government to build an A96 Bypass.
At a later stage, after the Government announced their Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) which did not include an Elgin Bypass, discussions with Stewart Stevenson MSP (who was the Minister for Transport at that time) and his officials, were on the basis that Transport Scotland could consider junction improvements along the A96 provided the Council also delivered on its road improvement proposals. These included the Western Link Road as an approved Moray Local Plan road scheme.
The Moray Council has never given any assurance to the Scottish Government that the Western Link Road will be “driven through” in any circumstances. The Government has not announced a “bypass”, rather the current proposal to build a dualled A96 past or around Elgin is very small part of a national commitment to provide dual carriageway standard roads between the main cities of Scotland by 2030.
More recently, on the question of whether dualling of the A96 would negate the need for improvements to the local road network, the Minister, Keith Brown, has stated that the A96 dualling is unrelated to the need for an effective road network in the town. A copy of the letter can be seen here.