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Opponents of planned bus lane in Inverness vow to continue their campaign


By Val Sweeney

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Plans to fell trees to create a bus gate in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital have sparked protests.
Plans to fell trees to create a bus gate in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital have sparked protests.

Opponents of a planned bus lane through the grounds of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness have vowed to continue their campaign after raising their concerns at a public meeting.

Proposals to create a bus gate from Churchill Road/Ashton Road on the estate and through the hospital site to Old Perth Road, have prompted an outcry from residents, citing the felling of mature trees and detrimental impact on those living nearby.

They also feel there has been a lack of consultation about the project, which is required as a planning condition for the construction of the Centre for Health Science 2 at Inverness Campus, to alleviate congestion on surrounding roads.

An online meeting this week was attended by representatives of Highland Council and NHS Highland, which are delivering the project, and Stagecoach bus company.

But residents are demanding the proposals be postponed until Covid restrictions are lifted and residents can have a say at a community council meeting.

Campaign group spokeswoman Margaret Morton said removing trees would destroy an irreplaceable eco-system while residents in Ashton Crescent, particularly pensioners, would be affected by increased noise levels and bright lights.

"It will have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of residents," she said.

"We would also say the description of a ‘gate’ is misleading.

"There will be a road/lane built, and to call it a gate is disingenuous and deceitful."

Opponents of plans for a bus lane through the grounds of Raigmore Hospital have vowed to carry on with their campaign.
Opponents of plans for a bus lane through the grounds of Raigmore Hospital have vowed to carry on with their campaign.

A spokesman for Stagecoach, said it could improve direct bus services to the estate, with potentially six services an hour during the day, plus hourly services in the evening and every 30 minutes on Sundays.

The meeting heard several routes had been explored, but many were ruled out because of their proximity to the hospital’s helicopter landing pad.

Craig Baxter, of Highland Council’s planning team, said efforts had been made to consult people.

"Fundamentally, the reason we have been trying to get Inverness Campus and NHS Highland to deliver the bus gate is that there is only so much space on the road for cars," he said.

"We need to get people moving about more efficiently."

Highland Council said efforts have been made by the design team to keep tree removal to a minimum but it will be necessary to fell 11 trees to create the route.

For each tree felled, two 4m tall replacement trees will be planted and officers are asking the community to work with the council and its partners to identify the preferred locations for the new planting.

Related story: Outcry over plans to fell mature trees


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