Sending our HGVs through Brechin is no answer

A PROPOSAL by TACTRAN, the Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership, has brought the question of the road links from Montrose to the A90 sharply back into focus.

The partnership has said that heavy lorries to and from Montrose should travel on the A935 through Brechin, where access to the A90 is by an underpass.

TACTRAN say heavy traffic should not go by the A937. That road takes it to the A90 via Hillside, Marykirk, and a junction at Laurencekirk which is not grade-separated and which is the subject of a campaign for upgrading.

The A935 route as far as Brechin is the least cumbersome option in terms of bad bends, narrow bridges and other obstructions, but there have been objections from Brechin itself. One objector has said that the Brechin bypass was built to alleviate heavy through traffic in Brechin, and that directing 40-tonne lorries through the burgh would be a major step backwards.

The matter has caught the attention of Mr John Aitken, our Shipping Lines correspondent.

He is well aware of the need for a dedicated direct link to service the oil, industrial and shipping requirements of Montrose, and has commented on the proposal in some detail.

He told us: “Once again the road system around Montrose and its busy port has been found wanting. There still remains the missing link between the A935 Montrose - Brechin road and the A90. This leaves HGVs few options for crossing the rural countryside between the national trunk route and the port of Montrose.”

“The previous Angus Council administration pulled the rug from under a viable link between the A935 and the A90 not long after taking power, using the excuse that it could decimate retail activity in Brechin town centre. Some sources pointed to another reason, it could have been ‘raw political dogma’ as it had been an SNP proposal. I do not get involved in political debate and I don’t intend to start here.

“I gather from reliable sources that plans and the appropriate finance were well in hand but the political will was lost and so on most week days HGVs still navigate through Brechin town centre streets.

“When Montrose Harbour Trust was formed by Act of Parliament in 1837 Brechin’s commercial interests were protected and four representatives were appointed to the newly formed Board. This continued until relatively recent times. In my opinion vibrant port activity in Montrose plus its expanding industrial estates at the northern end of the town will encourage spin-off for Brechin with increased employment opportunities, etc.

“Far from becoming isolated, the town, with an additional road link, would have the potential to become a hub with an improved road infrastructure to both national and coastal routes.

“The reinstatement of the A935/A90 link project would also take traffic from the dangerous and overloaded junction to the north at Laurencekirk, thus relieving HGVs, light commercials and substantial numbers of cars from passing through the settlements of Hillside and Marykirk.

“Constructing this long delayed link would unlock the potential for increased Montrose port traffic which currently is directed northwards to Aberdeen and Peterhead. If this link is not undertaken soon, the eventual construction of the Aberdeen Peripheral Route will send further oil-related business to the north-east.”

Mr Aitken concluded: “I make no apology for reiterating a reference to a national UK Government White Paper ‘Transport Policy 1977’, paragraph 10: “The drive for improving industrial performance is at the centre of the Government’s economic strategy. This means that the raw materials that industry requires and the goods industry produces must be moved quickly, cheaply and efficiently to their destinations. In turn this depends upon ... Government ensuring the necessary investment ... particularly in roads to the ports ... for the movement of bulk freight. This statement can be interpreted in numerous updated ways today but the principle remains the same. Modern road infrastructure is vital.”