Many roads lead to the future

THE Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), a much-delayed dual carriageway and bypass to Aberdeen, is probably the greatest piece of infrastructure I have seen in the North-east during my lifetime.

The implications of the AWPR are significant, allowing easy connectivity from Stonehaven and to the south, Banchory and Inverurie to the west, Aberdeen International Airport and north to Peterhead.

It is difficult to perceive how much benefit this will bring but I believe it will be substantial, notwithstanding the shortened journey times.

For the A96 corridor it makes a massive difference, with much improved accessibility for visitors, customers and for everyone travelling to work in Aberdeenshire.

This ripples out to encourage tourism to flourish, and with sporting and leisure facilities, the castle and whisky trails and magnificent scenery from countryside to the sea, we have much to offer.

Combined this with Network Rail’s £170million upgrade of the Aberdeen-Inverness line, the dualling of the railway from Inverurie to Aberdeen, and half hourly services, opening Kintore Station, and the potential of a rail link to Aberdeen Airport, these are pieces of infrastructure will benefit all of the North-east, generating income and opportunity.

One missing piece of the jigsaw that still remains unanswered is when will we see the dualling of the A96?

The queues and bottlenecks make for frustrating, and sometimes dangerous, driving conditions.

These are all substantial financial investments and with the downturn in the oil industry we need this input.

The relocation of Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre closer to the airport and the possibility of the new Westhill Football Stadium demonstrate that if the infrastructure is in place, then facilities and further investments will follow.

Perhaps dualling the A90 all the way to Peterhead would benefit what is the largest fishing port in Scotland?

These are all the visible pieces of infrastructure we tend to see and which will undoubtedly benefit businesses and tourism.

So whilst we are all ensuring that there is significant infrastructure above ground, further development whether it be commercial, industrial, retail, leisure or residential cannot begin without the infrastructure below ground.

Sewers and treatment plants need to be upgraded, we need more surface water and flood prevention; water supplies with both quantity and pressure is essential.

Do we have enough electricity, gas pipework and more importantly, fibre optic to provide high speed broadband?

These are the pieces of infrastructure we need to interlink, so that development can continue in a modern world.

With political changes locally, nationally and globally, it is vitally important that we are accessible and can access other markets and continue to invest in connectivity for us, for our children and for their children.