EVERY bypass is a conflict between improving access to cities and cutting a swathe through the countryside to the detriment of people who live along the route.
It is essential that such schemes are subjected to rigorous scrutiny to achieve the best possible outcome.
In the case of the Aberdeen city bypass, opposition has resulted in nearly a decade of delay to one of the most important improvements to Scotland's transport infrastructure.
There were more than 8000 objections to plans for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), resulting in a four-month public inquiry. Plans for the 289-mile route were approved by ministers in 2009 but legal challenges continued until yesterday when the UK Supreme Court dismissed a further attempt to overturn the decision.
It is vital that Aberdeen, as the oil capital of Europe, has good connections to the rest of the country. Road improvements to the south have reduced journey times from the central belt but the benefits are quickly eroded if all routes into the city are gridlocked. At present, thousands of drivers are condemned to queue in traffic jams to cross the River Dee over a 16th-century bridge.
The 14,000 new jobs claimed to result from the AWPR and the associated road upgrade are vital at a time when there is no growth in the Scottish economy.
The warnings of environmental campaigners that building more roads inevitably leads to further traffic increase should not be dismissed. There is plenty of evidence to prove their case. However, bottlenecks and congestion in and around cities have a negative effect on quality of life as well as on business. That does not mean roads should be prioritised above public transport. It is particularly important that centres such as Aberdeen that are among the furthest-flung from the Scottish and UK capitals have fast, efficient transport links with the rest of the country. The full potential of the bypass to reduce congestion will be realised only if it includes park-and-ride sites around the city and sites for freight transfer to rail.
Campaigners who felt the planning process failed to take their concerns properly into account will be disappointed but the years of delay have added to the cost of the £400 millon project. The lesson of the need for early consultation and genuine efforts at accommodation, where possible, should not be lost but the priority now must be to begin the preparations so that the timetable of completion by 2018 can be achieved.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.