Walton could go to European Court of Human Rights
The man who led a campaign through the courts to try and stop a major road project going ahead has said the fight may not be over.
William Walton, chairman of RoadSense, said the group had still not ruled out taking its attempt to stop the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route from being built to the European Court of Human Rights.
Despite John Swinney effectively giving the go-ahead to the 28-mile road in December 2009, it has been delayed in the courts after claims that there were flaws in the initial public consultation.
RoadSense challenged the project, which is being built by Transport Scotland, and took appeals to the Outer and Inner Courts of Session in Edinburgh and the Supreme Court in London.
In an interview with Holyrood, Walton conceded that the “point might have come” to admit defeat but said there could still be a further challenge.
He said: “I know that we have members and supporters who would say ‘challenge this further.” And he added: “At this stage all I can say is we’re taking advice on that. We haven’t ruled it out. Unlike appeals to the lower courts, instead of having six weeks, you have six months.
“All the European Court of Human Rights can award you is damages – they can’t annul decisions or change the law. But having said that, when they award prisoners damages, for example, for slopping out, or not having the vote, the impact of that is that the law does really have to be revisited.”
The road project has been supported by commuters, businesses and politicians in and around Aberdeen as a solution to congestion in the city centre.
But the campaign has been backed by environmental groups who believe that the costs – now estimated at £630m – would be better invested in public transport and measures to get people out of their cars.
Walton said: “I would say to drivers and the business community, if they believe that the bypass is going to mean the end of congestion and traffic problems – such as they are – then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.
“The figures presented by Transport Scotland in terms of traffic reduction and rerouting, they’re really not that spectacular.”