A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen – Preferred Option – Virtual exhibition

If of interest … feedback period running until 15 February 2021

MTRIPS Planning and Design
Major Transport Infrastructure Projects 
Buchanan House, 
58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow G4 0HF
Direct Line: Phone: 0141 272 7221
Fax: 0141 272 7272
[email protected] 
 Date: 18 December 2020 

Dear Sir / Madam



As you may be aware, Transport Scotland has been progressing with the design development and assessment of route options for the section of the A96 to be dualled between East of Huntly and Aberdeen.

Following the initial route options public exhibitions in October 2018, we held further engagement events in May 2019 which presented the remaining options being taken forward to the next stage of design. In October 2020, a design update taking account of feedback received at these earlier events was circulated to interested parties and made available on the project website. The preferred option has been chosen following detailed assessment and design work and takes account of feedback received from local communities and other interested parties.

We had planned to hold a public exhibition to announce the preferred option for the scheme, however as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic we are not currently able to hold face to face public exhibitions. We are therefore running a virtual exhibition from 12 noon on Monday 21 December 2020, with a feedback period running to 15 February 2021.

The virtual exhibition and links to the downloadable material can be accessed at the following Transport Scotland webpage:


Anyone wanting to arrange a chat with the project team as they would have done were face-to-face events permitted should contact the Thainstone project office at 01467 672 516 during normal working hours. If you have any specific accessibility requirements, or would like a hard copy, the preferred option leaflet and the exhibition panels can be made available on request in an appropriate format by contacting the project team at [email protected]

Further information on the scheme is available on the Transport Scotland project webpage: transport.gov.scot/A96EHA    

Yours faithfully,

David Burt

Project Manager

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Survey reveals alarming cuts to outdoor access jobs in Scotland

Joint press release issued by Ramblers Scotland on behalf of Scottish Outdoor Access Network 

Landowners and outdoor groups are jointly calling for better resourcing to support Scotland’s world-class access rights – as a new survey highlights alarming cutbacks in countryside access jobs.

Scottish Outdoor Access Network (SOAN) polled all 34 access authorities on how they manage access, a topic which has hit the headlines during the Covid era due to booming numbers of people heading outdoors.

The survey showed that during 2019/20:

  • Six authorities do not employ a single Access Officer; skilled professionals who find practical solutions to access challenges, and ensure the local authorities carry out their statutory duties
  • The equivalent of just 36.5 full-time Access Officers now work across Scotland; down 27% from 2015/16 and 44% since 2005/6
  • A third of access authorities do not directly employ any full-time Countryside Rangers; frontline staff who welcome and educate visitors, and manage important sites on the ground.

SOAN believes the reduction in access-supporting jobs is symptomatic of a wider, worsening trend of under-investment in visitor management.

SOAN stressed that the Scottish Government’s funding for access has flatlined for more than a decade at £8.1million a year – but said that many hard-pressed local authorities are sadly choosing to invest their access allocation on other issues.

David Henderson-Howat, convenor of the National Access Forum, said: “People here are rightly proud of Scotland’s progressive access legislation. Sadly, this survey confirms our fears – expressed in a letter to the Scottish Government earlier this year – that there is an alarming downward national trend in the funding and resources needed to ensure those rights work well on the ground.”

He added: “Members of the Forum understand there are competing budget priorities, but we would also highlight the great benefits that access brings in terms of our health and wellbeing. There is a real cost to local communities, land managers and wider society when paths aren’t maintained, irresponsible behaviour goes unaddressed or small disagreements are allowed to escalate.”

The survey results come as increasing numbers of people are accessing the outdoors – with 80% of Scots visiting the outdoors at least once a week this summer according to NatureScot, up from 64% in summer 2019.
Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy said: “It is good news that so many people are getting active outdoors, but we are also seeing a rising number of access issues – with too few staff to resolve them. Decision-makers must remember that access funding is a preventative spend, which keeps people healthy and addresses issues before they escalate.”

Speyside Way at Kinrara – before and after path works

Emma Steel, Scottish Land & Estates policy adviser (access), said: “Our members who manage land work hard to ensure wildlife flourishes, to help the environment and to provide safe access for the public on land in rural Scotland. We want people to enjoy visiting the Scottish countryside safely and responsibly, however, SOAN’s survey shows the crucial need for investment in access to ensure everyone benefits – from visitors and businesses to landowners and residents.”

During 2019/20 only one of the 34 authorities served any section 14 notices; the legal instrument that forces access obstructions to be removed. This highlights a lack of resources, rather than a lack of issues. Meanwhile, eight authorities held no meetings of their Local Access Forums, statutory bodies which advise the authorities on access matters.

SOAN brings together more than 200 people who work on outdoor access and related issues in Scotland, representing everyone from landowners and managers to sporting bodies and access campaigners. It carried out its survey of access authorities after Covid-related delays affected the Scottish Government’s plans to conduct a similar poll.

View the full results here.

Ramblers Scotland press release, Twitter post and Facebook post.

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Our first virtual AGM and mini-networking event

On 11 November 2020 we hosted our first virtual AGM and Mini-Networking event 2020 (Reflections and developments in access and active travel, lessons from the Summer and looking forward to 2021). The event proved a success with 43 people attending and a full and varied agenda including presentations from representatives of Ramblers Scotland, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority, NatureScot – on behalf of the National Access Forum, Paths For All and Sustrans Scotland.

Kenny Auld (Co-convenor) presented a Co-convenors’ report and Alan Bannister (Treasurer), his Treasurer’s Report for 2019-2020.

We received some great feedback:

all worked very smoothly including the voting

good short presentations , interesting too.

a great update

loads of good info in short space of time

Good to see people that we haven’t seen for a long time.

Echoing the last comment, it was great to “see” people that we haven’t seen for some time due to COVID restrictions and the SOAN Committee thanks all who attended and presented at the event.

Moving into 2021, we hope to run other virtual events. To keep updated on these, become a member of SOAN. When we’ve more details, we’ll send these to you.

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Provost Walk, Auchterarder – Sharing Best Practice to Improve our Shared Use Paths and Active Travel Routes (14 November 2019)

An informative and enjoyable day out for those that attended sharing knowledge gained during the upgrading of a narrow, muddy path to a fully inclusive, shared use route.

For photos of the event, visit the Auchterarder Community Sports and Recreation Facebook page by clicking here .

Some of the encouraging feedback we received:

We’ve currently no events planned. However, as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted, we’re starting to look at what events we may be able to run including both online and outdoors. For details (as and when available) join SOAN, follow our Twitter or check out our website.

Posted on by Emma Donaldson | Comments Off on Reflection on some of our past events …

Visitor Safety Group (VSG) publishes COVID-19 Recovery Planning Guidance – Working Practices for Landowners and Countryside Managers

The Visitor Safety Group (VSG) has published COVID-19 Recovery Planning Guidance – Working Practices for Landowners and Countryside Managers.

The guidance seeks to cover the key areas all landowners and countryside managers will need to consider and assess when re-opening and managing outdoor public access sites / attractions and associated indoor spaces during COVID-19.

The guidance should be underpinned by the regulations, guidance and advice from the Scottish Government and Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis.

Given the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, VSG has decided to make this guidance free for distribution so you can share with networks.

For the full guidance see https://vscg.org/documents/uploads/covidguidance.pdf.

VSG are also running a free COVID-19 Recovery Planning webinar Thursday 4 June 11:00-12:30 open to VSG members and non-members (see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/vsg-webinar-covid-19-recovery-planning-tickets-107105563624?aff=ebdssbeac). Pre-register by 3pm Wednesday 3 June 2020 to receive the access link for the webinar.

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What does exercising rights of access responsibly under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 mean during the COVID-19 emergency?

Scottish Ministers have today released guidance on what exercising rights of access responsibly under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 means during the COVID-19 emergency.

The guidance stresses the importance of responsible behaviour when visiting the outdoors during the Covid-19 crisis.

Access rights are still in place but users must take extra care.

For the full guidance see https://www.gov.scot/publications/ministerial-statement-on-access-rights-during-covid-19/.

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‘Provost Walk, Auchterarder’ – Sharing Best Practice to Improve our Shared Use Paths and Active Travel Routes (14th November 2019)

Our next Sharing Best Practice event is in Perthshire. Join us on a journey along the Provost Walk, Auchterarder to see the work that has happened over the past few years along this multi-use path.

£40 a person including refreshments. What could be a better way to spend a November Thursday? Visit our Conference and Events page to book.

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Help! We’re looking for some Admin Support.

Self Employed Administrator

Location: Home-based / Edinburgh

The Scottish Outdoor Access Network (SOAN) is looking for an administrator to provide a range of administrative support functions for our small, friendly and dedicated team. This is an appealing opportunity to support the ongoing success of the volunteer-led Scottish Outdoor Access Network.

About the Scottish Outdoor Access Network

SOAN works to support professionals working in the outdoor access and active travel sectors. The SOAN committee is comprised of volunteers from a range of public and third sector partner organisations who support the sector by delivering training and networking opportunities, and providing information through our website and social media.

About the role

The Administrator will support SOAN’s activities by providing administrative services on an ongoing basis, contributing to a well-coordinated and efficient organisation.

We welcome applications from people from a range of backgrounds who can meet the below conditions, together with the essential criteria detailed in the job description:

• Commit to a minimum of 100 (maximum of 200) hours per year,

• Be flexible to accommodate increased work commitment around events (typically 2 main events per year),

• Have access to personal office equipment to work with colleagues via a range of electronic platforms.

The self-employed rate of pay is £15 per hour which includes allowance for office overheads.

Interviews: 8
th of October, in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

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Dumfries Street Design Project’ – Sharing Best Practice to make our neighbourhoods safer, more vibrant and attractive places to live. (4th September 2019)

This Sharing Good Practice Event will showcase the developments that have taken place within the Victorian Quarter area of Dumfries. This event is aimed at anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the strategic planning, community involvement, partnerships, technical design, funding and practical implementation considerations of a typical street design project. It will be led by two of the project partners, namely: Sustrans Scotland and the ‘DG1 Neighbours’ community group. 

Date: Wednesday 4thSeptember 2019 Time: 11.00am – 3.00pm

Theatre Royal Dumfries, 66-68 Shakespeare Street, Dumfries DG1 2JH (Tel: 01387 254209).  £40 per person

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What a response!

Our Upholding Access Rights – Recent Land Reform case law: developments and updates conference on 3 June 2019 is fully booked.

If you’ve missed your chance to join us on this fantastic day, don’t worry. You’ll be able to join us on our next amazing event!

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