Road noise threat to Moray’s most tranquil community

THE TRANQUILITY OF Moray’s world renowned Pluscarden Abbey has stood the test of time since 1230 – but the thirst for and convenience of modern travel is posing a new threat.

Plans to dual the busy A96 route between Inverness and Aberdeen includes an option that is causing concern for monks residing at the UK’s only fully functioning mediaeval monastery.

Among a number of routes being considered is one that is just too close for comfort for the Benedictine monks – such that they have lodged an objection to what is understood is the shortest and cheapest option, passing close to their quiet retreat.

Brother Michael, who is cellarer (steward) for Pluscarden said: “It is definitely worrying – it would mean there would be constant traffic noise. At the moment most of the day you hear nothing at all – and at night you hear nothing except for owls, perhaps.

“To have the constant hum of traffic would be doubly annoying because the traffic is really nothing to do with us – it is just taking a shortcut, as it were.

“Most of the people who come here, the first thing they say is how peaceful it is.”

As well as the 20 resident monks at Pluscarden there are around 10 visitors on retreat, seeking the peace for which the abbey is renowned.

Public consultations on the options for the 86-mile road come to an end on Monday, with Transport Scotland saying that no routes have been selected with work to date focused only on broad strategies.

It is expected to take at least two years before any decisions on a route for the new A96 are taken, with assessment on possible routes not due to begin until early in 2016.