The overarching failure of the scheme is that Transport Scotland slavishly follows the process dictated by the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB). At each stage, Transport Scotland’s decisions have been taken principally on the basis of what offers the best value for money as measured against engineering requirements. At the same time, it has used the DMRB process to hide inconvenient details. In 6 years of planning, the scheme for Killiecrankie studiously ignored the unique historic environment of the place. HES was invited to comment in the course of the process but Transport Scotland is not obliged to take consultees’ advice even though the project head admitted to Killiecrankie residents in November 2017 that ignoring such advice would be “foolish”.

The refined design is a last ditch effort to squeeze in some sort of consideration of the historic environment. However, having committed early to a damaging alignment and design that has been developed over the past few years, the last minute tweaking has only managed to compromise whatever rationale the plan had. Now it is hard to see a single positive.

In their objections, statutory consultees involved with history, heritage and archaeology, asked Transport Scotland to do much more including:

  • To consider whether the overall alignment within the Inventory boundary is the most appropriate;
  • To identify ways to reduce or avoid proposed works that would adversely affect the special qualities (archaeological and physical remains) and key landscape characteristics (topographic features) of the nationally important heritage asset;
  • To enable an unequivocal comparison of the impact of widening the northbound or the southbound carriageway;
  • To demonstrate how the road infrastructure has been kept to a minimum within the battlefield;
  • To remove lay-bys planned with the battlefield;
  • To relocate a SuDS drainage pond beside the Girnaig.

With the exception of the SuDS, none of the points has been addressed. They cannot be because that would have required more work to have been done years ago before it rejected all other route option.

Residents repeatedly registered dissatisfaction about SuDS on the battlefield but were told that the locations were “optimal” and that it is a requirement to have three separate drainage catchments through the Killiecrankie section. “If any of the SuDS ponds were to be located elsewhere this would be to the detriment of the design and result in greater environmental impacts to the surrounding area,” wrote Jacobs in July 2017. Now that one SuDS has been removed and the capacity of another doubled, it must be assumed that the design has been compromised.
Laybys illustrate just how unimportant the Inventory battlefield was to planners. At the start of the exercise, they could have decided to remove the existing southbound lay-by from the area in an effort to enhance the historic environment. Instead it was decided to keep the southbound one and insert an additional layby on the northbound carriageway at Stage 2 without informing any consultee or adding it to any published drawing. By the time the public or a consultee learned about laybys, they were integral to the design and impossible to remove.

These failures add up to the worst of all possible scenarios. A bad plan has been compromised, losing whatever advantages it appeared to have. We are left with a botched plan that serves no particular group well.