Buchan rail link protection welcomed

Councillor Stephen Smith, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, Stewart Stevenson and Councillor Rob Merson following their meeting at Holyrood
Councillor Stephen Smith, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, Stewart Stevenson and Councillor Rob Merson following their meeting at Holyrood

SNP councillors have welcomed a decision to extend the protection of all sections of the former railway line falling within the Ellon settlement boundary.

The former station site in the town has already been granted protected status in the 2012 local development plan following a proposal by Ellon and District Councillor Rob Merson in 2010.

The latest move by the Reporter in the 2017 local plan sees that safeguard further extended to facilitate the possible re-opening of a rail link to Buchan in the future.

Councillor Merson and South Peterhead and Cruden Councillor Stephen Smith have campaigned for the reopening of the Formartine/Buchan rail link since being elected in 2007.

They recently convened a meeting with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and SNP MSPs, Stewart Stevenson (Banff & Buchan Coast) and Gillian Martin (Aberdeenshire East), at which they stressed the need for further improvements to the transport infrastructure of North Aberdeenshire following completion of the AWPR and dualling of the Balmedie-Tipperty section of the A90.

Councillors Smith and Merson told the minister they supported the multi-modal transport survey being conducted Transport Scotland and Nestrans to assess the relative merits of a variety of forms of transport in North Aberdeenshire, from walking and cycling to the potential reintroduction of rail travel.

Mr Yousaf welcomed the representations and confirmed the Scottish Government was looking towards future transport projects.

Councillor Smith said: “I believe that improving the transport infrastructure in North Aberdeenshire will most likely require a mix of solutions.

“While the former Formartine-Buchan railway line may not be the optimum route for a modern rail link in its entirety - much of it could be. What we need to do is to identify what that route should be, and where rail stations should be – we need a red line on the map.”

Councillor Merson added: “I expressed the view at a joint meeting between Nestrans and Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Authority some time ago that such a proposal was an ideal project to be brought forward under the City Region Deal. “I was delighted to receive support across the room from both Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City councillors, who recognised that such a rail link could substantially reduce road traffic into Aberdeen, town centre congestion and emissions.”