A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen objectives and assessment: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

You asked for:-

1) Details of the criteria used to assess each route option – specifically what are the “scheme objectives”

2) The assessment of the on-line dualling of the A96 against no 1 above

3) Same assessment undertaken on the two remaining options

4) “Like for like” assessment for all 3 routes that justify the deselection of the on-line option.

5) Can also you please outline the sifting process that has been undertaken that leads to a position of having the remaining two routes, under pinned with analysis and supporting data


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). Scheme Objectives and Assessment Criteria

During the development of the initial options, the First Fix Alignments were appraised against the as published Scheme Objectives (SO) and STAG criteria.

The Scheme Objectives, which were presented to the public at the public consultation events held in October 2018 and May 2019 (details of which are available on the Transport Scotland website at https://www.transport.gov.scot/projects/a96-dualling-inverness-to-aberdeen/a96-east-of-huntly-to-aberdeen/project-details/#56809), are as follows:

SO 1: To improve the operation of the A96 and inter-urban connectivity through:

  • Reduced journey times
  • Improved journey time reliability
  • Increased overtaking opportunities
  • Improved efficiency of freight movements along the transport corridor
  • Reduced conflicts between local traffic and strategic journeys
  • Improved network resilience

SO 2: To improve safety for motorised and non-motorised users through:

  • Reduced accident rates and severity
  • Reduced driver stress
  • Reduced potential conflicts between motorised and non-motorised users

SO 3: To provide opportunities to grow the regional economies on the corridor through:

  • Improved access to the wider strategic transport network
  • Enhanced access to jobs and services

SO 4: To facilitate active travel in the corridor

SO 5: To facilitate integration with Public Transport Facilities

SO 6: To avoid significant environmental impacts and, where this is not possible, to minimise the environmental effect on:

  • The communities and people in the corridor
  • Natural and cultural heritage assets

The STAG criteria are as follows and this table below also explains how there is a degree of duplication between the Scheme Objectives and STAG criteria, and how this was dealt with. The combination of both the Scheme Objectives appraisal and the STAG appraisal for each option enabled a multi-disciplinary assessment of all options.

- Table attached below due to formatting issues during publication -

It should be noted that the affordability criterion was not quantitatively assessed as part of the First Fix Alignment Appraisals. Affordability is reflected in each engineering discipline’s appraisal of the First Fix Alignment options. The complexity and scale of the engineering works is considered to be broadly proportional to the cost and cost risk associated with the capital and maintenance costs. For example:

  • Very large structures are identified within the Structures Appraisal
  • Abnormal Works such as potential for work in shallow rock or other challenging ground conditions has been identified within the Geotechnical Appraisal
  • Flooding and Drainage Appraisals have identified any potential for abnormal works associated with flood compensation and the like
  • Potential for major utility diversions or interfaces is identified in the Utilities Appraisal

2). Assessment of Online Dualling against above criteria, 3). Same assessment undertaken on the two remaining offline options & 4). “Like for like” assessment for all 3 routes that justify the deselection of the on-line option

The assessment, including environmental, engineering, economic and traffic considerations, of online dualling through Inverurie was carried out in 2018 as part of the initial route options assessment period. The outcome of the assessment of the initial route options is reported in the ‘Corridor Options Workshop Report’ and ‘First Fix Alignment Workshop Report’ which are both available to view on the Transport Scotland website from the link below:

It was concluded that additional work would need to be undertaken to determine the feasibility of progressing an online improvement (OLI-001) of the existing A96 through Inverurie prior to Second Fix Alignment development.

The additional work is reported in the Online at Inverurie - Dualling Feasibility and Appraisal document which is available to view from the Transport Scotland website at: https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/44577/online-at-inverurie-dualling-feasibility-and-appraisal-east-of-huntly-to-aberdeen-a96-dualling.pdf.

5. Outline the sifting process that has been undertaken that leads to a position of having the remaining two routes, under pinned with analysis and supporting data.

Following the October 2018 public exhibitions, further design development and sifting work on the route options under consideration was undertaken. The analysis and supporting data which explains the position of having two remaining routes is reported in the ‘Route Options Sifting Workshop Report’, ‘Cyan/Lime Pairing Assessment’, ‘Cyan/Red to Pink Pairing Assessments’, ‘Green/Violet Pairing Assessment’ and ‘Blue/Pink Pairing Assessment’ which are all available to view on the Transport Scotland website from the links below:

All remaining route options under consideration were presented at the public engagement events held in May 2019, details of which can be found on the Transport Scotland website at https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/44950/route-options-strip-plan-map-may-2019-east-of-huntly-to-aberdeen-a96-dualling.pdf.

About FOI
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.

FOI-19-01508 - Information Released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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