Shirley-Anne Somerville versus the environment.

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bridgetonowhere.jpgAlso on a additional Forth crossing theme, while watching some BBC coverage of the SNP conference I heard a couple of very bizarre comments.

First, the BBC appear oblivious to the fact that there's any opposition to the scheme. Their reporter said (about a sixth through that long clip):

".. that would have a big impact on projects like the new Forth Road Bridge. Everyone agrees it's key to Scotland's economic prosperity, but Westminster and Holyrood have locked horns over how it should be paid for."

Er, no. They don't all agree. Here are just some of those opposed to the scheme. And even the City of Edinburgh Council, led by the SNP and the Liberals, has come out against.

Next, more disingenuously, the clip includes this section from Shirley-Anne Somerville's speech to SNP conference, discussing borrowing powers:

"It's about building Scotland's future, and that includes the Forth Crossing. It is of strategic importance to the Scottish economy, not just of Fife and the Lothians, not just to the east of Scotland, but to our whole country. No other country would have a debate about whether this bridge should be built or not, it is so important."

So, let me get this straight. A democratic politician doesn't think there should be a public debate about £2,300m - £4,200m of public spending? Even though it's supposedly to replace a bridge which is still operational and which is currently estimated to cost £122m, absolute tops, to fix? That's logic which would appeal to Kim Jong-Il.

Unfortunately for the likes of Shirley-Anne and other regular opponents of public transport, there is a debate, and it's not going away. 

On one side of it is a cynical attempt by the SNP and the other parties here at Holyrood to fish for votes in Fife, cynical because they've misled local people into believing that the new bridge is necessary and won't cause massive cuts in public transport expenditure, that it won't cause massive disruption during construction, and that it won't blow carbon reductions out of the water. 

On the other side are the local residents, radical environmentalists like the National Trust and RSPB, SERA (Labour's environmental ginger group), the transport campaigners, and the Scottish Green Party.

If this bridge does get built, which I doubt, it's not going to be plain sailing for its unquestioning supporters. It's going to be a hard battle, and it's one we'll fight all the way.

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This page was published on April 20, 2009 3:11 PM.

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