Campaigners opposed to one of the most hotly contested council proposals ever witnessed in Moray are calling for one final push as a vital planning hearing approaches.
Councillors in favour of the proposal to spend £8.5million on a West Link Road in Elgin say it is one of the single most important projects ever created in the region.
They insist that without the new route Moray faces economic stagnation – however, opponents to the plans insist that it is a red herring that is simply not required and is bringing nothing but heartache for residents living in the path of its proposed route.
Now years of debate and protest should reach a climax on November 12 when a planning hearing will take place to decide the fate of the link between the A96 and the west of the city.
“The council have changed their reasoning every time they amended the application,” Caroline Webster of the Elgin Designing Streets Action Group said while calling on one final push by those against the plans.
She added: “It was a project to resolve traffic problems then it moved to facilitating future development. The it was to facilitate the retail park – now it is about the economic prosperity of Elgin.
“There is no proof that it’s economically viable. The community of Moray have never protested as much about anything before in the past – and the council cannot ignore that.”
November’s hearing was the result of a request from the chairman of the planning and regulatory services committee, Councillor Douglas Ross.
He said: “I requested this hearing to allow all the protesters and objectors to state their views to councillors. Finally after this hearing one way or another we will have a decision on the link road.
“Either planning will be approved and construction work will begin or the plans will be rejected and that will put an end to the project.”
The convener of Moray Council, Councillor Stewart Cree, remains adamant that the new road is “essential for the future prosperity” of Elgin.
He said: “How long does Elgin want to put off its internal traffic needs? To see the town’s economy grow to reach its potential there is a need to attract more big-name stores – which in turn will entice more shoppers.
“We will not do that until we progress these issues.”
Campaigners against the proposals are to hold an information evening ahead of the hearing on Monday, October 27.