Nestrans welcomes EU CIVITAS grant award

Stuart Smith2016, News

A £3.2million grant has been awarded for a north-east transport project involving a consortium of partners that is aimed at improving travel in the area. The CIVITAS PORTIS European Union grant will be used to examine transport solutions with a connection with port operations, supporting sustainable urban mobility through changes in behaviour and attitude of citizens, planners, politicians and industries. It will also help address social inclusion and provide opportunities for economic growth.

Nestrans is a partner for the project, which is led by Aberdeen City Council and also includes Aberdeenshire Council, The Robert Gordon University, the University of Aberdeen, and Aberdeen Harbour Board.

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “We wholeheartily welcome this £3.2million grant which will help with improving transportation and connectivity around Aberdeen and beyond. We have invested in several major infrastructure projects worth a total of £560million which are leading one of the biggest transformations the city has had – these include third Don crossing, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR/B-T), the Berryden Corridor Improvements, and the A96 Dyce Park and Choose and Link Road. We are looking forward to sharing information with partners in the CIVITAS project to help with travel and transportation in the future.”

Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Cllr Richard Thomson said: “Connectivity for the businesses and residents of Aberdeenshire is a crucial factor in our economic competitiveness and working jointly with other local agencies on this project is something we fully support. We are keen to share our experiences and to learn from partners with similar issues as we move towards a significant change in the strategic transport infrastructure post-2018.  Through participation in the PORTIS project we will be better placed to plan for the future and identify effective projects on a collaborative basis.”

Cllr Ramsay Milne, chair of the Nestrans board, said: “This is a truly exciting time for infrastructure projects across the North east. We have a lot to celebrate, with the expansion of the airport moving ahead at pace, rail improvements set to make a marked difference to commuters and visitors and of course the work to transform our harbour facilities with new developments at Nigg.  This announcement serves to prove that there is still much to do and focuses our energies on projects which will make a significant difference to businesses and residents. We must continue to invest in our infrastructure just in order to stand still.  The Nestrans board is pleased to be involved with this ambitious partnership and we look forward to seeing more projects coming on stream in the coming years.”

Professor Richard Laing, who specialises in sustainable urban design and leads the RGU contributions to PORTIS alongside Professor David Gray and Dr Elizabeth Tait, said: “This funding is fantastic news and will help focus attention on how we can improve the experience of travelling in Aberdeen City and Shire.  The work also represents an important step in helping Aberdeen to make a transition towards having a higher quality of urban living, and the city is well placed to lead the way in many respects. There have been a number of positive steps towards a more sustainable and efficient transportation model in the city and we look forward to helping and monitoring this process over the coming years.”

Professor John Nelson, Director of the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Transport Research (CTR), said: “It is great news that Aberdeen City Region has been chosen to receive this funding under the EU’s CIVITAS initiative, which aims to promote clean and better transport in cities. This is the first time that Scotland has been awarded CIVITAS status, and the CTR are delighted to have been appointed evaluation managers for the entire PORTIS consortium which also includes the four cities of Antwerp, Trieste, Constanta, Klaipeda, and Ningbo.  We look forward to working with colleagues in Aberdeen and elsewhere in Europe to evaluate the outcomes of this ambitious project.”

The project partners will use the grant to focus on what can be done in areas adjacent to the existing harbour, including linking to development of the City Centre Masterplan, air quality in the area around Market Street, the impact of Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route in rerouting traffic but with the A956 remaining a key transport corridor, and supporting the area to the west of the harbour being further redeveloped for high quality offices etc therefore improving access to an area which is close to the rail/bus station.

The project includes other city-wide opportunities such as development of alternative road hierarchy reflecting the impact of AWPR/B-T, how clean alternative fuel can be utilised, and infrastructure improvements being progressed including Park and Ride and investment in rail improvements to the north-east.  The project could further look at the infrastructure supporting the existing harbour, including the potential to address energy demands from vessels, the impact of AWPR and supporting projects that ‘Lock in the Benefits’, and cross-city connectivity supporting large areas of employment. It is also hoped there will be future involvement from other transport providers and authorities.