A Tory MP has been urged to recuse himself from commenting on a road project which could fall within a few hundred yards of his family home in Aberdeenshire.

Colin Clark has drawn attention to local opposition to possible routes on the A96 dual carriageway project, but has been accused of a "conflict of interest" given the close proximity of his £830,000 house.

SNP MSP Gillian Martin said: "Colin Clark is using his powerful position as an MP to lobby against a road running past his own home.

"He should recuse himself from making further comment given the clear conflict of interest, or else people will form their own conclusions on his motives."

The A96 is a trunk road linking Inverness and Aberdeen, and the Government has backed a dualling of the full length of the stretch by 2030.

A key element is a new 26 mile road linking the east of Huntly to the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

Transport Scotland, a government agency, unveiled a range of possible routes last year following public exhibitions.

One of the options, dubbed the “B” or “blue” route, effectively bypasses Inverurie and would be closer to the village of Oldmeldrum in the north.

Attention has shifted to the position adopted by Clark, the local MP for Gordon who unseated Alex Salmond at the last general election.

Although roads policy is a devolved matter, rather than being reserved to Westminster, Clark has got involved by highlighting opposition to the Transport Scotland proposals.

The “B” route is close to his family home in the constituency and would involve construction through farmland. Clark, a businessman, has spoken of his preference for another option, known as “Q”, which has been ruled out.

On October 8th, Clark wrote on his website that he was “disappointed to note the Q route that would have relieved Newmachar and Oldmeldrum is now off the table”.

He added: “Also for the record one of the routes goes very close to my own home so like all members of the public I have had the opportunity to feed comments back in.”

Days later, it was reported that he had written to Transport Scotland to ensure the “best possible communication” with those affected. He also suggested his constituents had reservations about a number of factors, including the impact on local properties:

“I’m not disputing the fact there has to be a bypass for Inverurie, but the routes tabled last week have come as a huge surprise for many of my constituents in rural areas.

“There are fears this could affect house sales, while others have said it will force them to reconsider plans to build new homes.

“This is going to be a very, very anxious process for a lot of people.”

He also carried out a survey of local residents, which found “overwhelming support” for plans to dual the A96 from Inverurie to Huntly along the existing route, which is away from the options closer to Oldmeldrum.

His press release stated: “The survey provided four options – to go through local farmland, follow the existing route and dual where necessary, to abandon the plan altogether or pursue any other option.

“Mr Clark has made publicly clear that he lives near one of the proposed routes (the so-called blue route) but said that should ‘not preclude him’ from representing the views of his constituents.”

He was quoted saying: “The proposed routes north of the current A96 are attracting a lot of negative comments.

“My constituency inbox is overwhelmingly full of people outraged by the environmental damage these routes could cause.”

However, despite Clark’s reference to potential “environmental damage”, an earlier press statement on his website referred to critics of the oil and gas industry and “environmental zealots”.

A copy of the Clark survey confirmed that four options were presented, one of which referred to “largely unspoiled farmland”.

One opponent of the scheme who raised concerns to the media last year was 94 year old Jack Sleigh, who has reportedly lived on his family farm at Fingask since the 1940s. He was quoted saying it would be “very upsetting” if the project was built on his land.

Martin added: "The dualling of the A96 is one of the next phases in transforming the infrastructure of the north east. It's a much needed project, with huge economic potential for the region.

"The nimbyism of one Tory MP should not be seen to take precedence over the needs of his 80,000 constituents.

A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said: "Colin has made clear, in press statements, and in communication with constituents, that his house lies near one of the proposed routes. He made no attempt to disguise that fact, and has been raising concerns about several route options on behalf of hundreds of constituents."

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We are currently undertaking the development and assessment of route options for the scheme, and feedback from the public exhibitions we held in October 2018 is being taken into account as part of the process to select a preferred option.”