- 20 May 2019
Date received: 18 Apr 2019
Date responded: 20 May 2019
You asked for:-
1. What DMRB Stage 1 assessments have been done for routes north east of Inverurie and;
2. What the ‘Do Minimum’ option is for the A96 Aberdeen to East of Huntly section.
As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
1. In response to your first question, as previously advised by email on 18 April 2019, a DMRB Stage 1 Assessment (i.e. strategic assessment) was undertaken for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen Programme with the publication of the Stage 1 Assessment Report in May 2015. The A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen DMRB Stage 1 Assessment Report can be viewed using the following link: https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/2231/a96-dualling-inverness-to-aberdeen-stage-1-report.pdf
The report recommended that high level Improvement Strategies Option B (a full scheme strategy that primarily follows the existing A96 corridor with offline bypasses), Option C (a part scheme offline strategy from Huntly to Blackburn) and Option D (a part scheme offline strategy from Glens of Foudland to north-west of Inverurie) are worthy of further consideration at the next stage of development (i.e. DMRB Stage 2 Assessment).
In addition, in response to feedback received following the 2015 public exhibitions and the November 2017 ‘Meet the Team’ events, a further review of Improvement Strategy Option Q was undertaken as this had originally been discounted at DMRB Stage 1 on the grounds that it did not perform well against the A96 Dualling Programme objectives. The outcome of the further review was that the section of Improvement Strategy Option Q between Colpy and Oldmeldrum (following the A920 corridor) should be considered further as part of the DMRB Stage 2 Assessment.
The findings of the review were presented to the public at the October 2018 public exhibitions and can be viewed using the following link: https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/exhibition-materials-public-exhibitions-october-2018-east-of-huntly-to-aberdeen-a96-dualling/
The A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen section was included in the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen DMRB Stage 1 Assessment. DMRB Stage 2 involves the identification and detailed assessment of route options developed from the broadly defined improvement strategies progressing from the Stage 1 assessment. The Violet, Green and Blue routes have been developed as a result of DMRB Stage 1 Improvement Strategy B (northern offline bypass of Inverurie) and Improvement Strategy D (northern offline bypass of Inverurie connecting to Glens of Foudland) and part of Improvement Strategy Q (between Colpy and Oldmeldrum).
2. In response to your second question, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have.
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested as the Do Minimum Scenario will be developed as part of the on-going DMRB Stage 2 route option assessment.
For your reference the DMRB Stage 1 do-minimum as defined in the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen Strategic Business Case and quoted in the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen DMRB Stage 1 Assessment Report included the following transport improvements:
- Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) including a new junction on the A96 near Dyce;
- Aberdeen to Inverness Rail Improvements Phase 1. This scheme aims to deliver a 2 hour journey time between the cities, an hourly service and enhanced commuter services into each city. It will also facilitate the construction of new stations at Kintore and Dalcross by 2019;
- Dalcross will also be a Park-&-Ride site with interchange facilities with Inverness Airport;
- A96 Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) – upgrading of the A96 to dual carriageway between the roundabout at Inverness Retail and Business Park and Nairn, including a Nairn Bypass;
- A96 Inveramsay Bridge – Construction of a realigned carriageway to allow for the removal of traffic lights at the Inveramsay Rail Bridge;
- A96 Threapland Junction – Upgrading the junction at Threapland on the A96 approximately 1 kilometre east of Lhanbryde to improve safety;
- A9/A96 Connections – Link road between A9 at Inshes and A96 at Smithton;
- Strategic Park and Ride at Dyce on the A96; and
- A90/A96 Haudagain Roundabout upgrade
The do-minimum is defined as the most likely transport situation over the course of the appraisal period if no intervention were to occur. Options generated were appraised against a ‘do-minimum’ scenario that includes committed transport improvements that have policy funding and approval, and from which it would be difficult to withdraw. There are a number of committed transport infrastructure improvements between Inverness and Aberdeen, that for the purposes of the appraisal, are assumed will be in place by 2027.
This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about the Do Minimum Scenario we cannot provide information which we do not hold.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House