by Andrew Reid
A CAMPAIGN to save an internationally-renowned community for people with special needs which is threatened by the proposed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (WPR) was launched this week.
Staff and residents at the Camphill Community at Newton Dee, Bieldside, launched the campaign to oppose the route - which they claim will destroy the heart of their community - on Tuesday (February 24).
The 200-strong community say they are not against the Aberdeen WPR per se, but claim that if it is not diverted away from Newton Dee, the impact on their community will be devastating.
Dr Stefan Geider, a GP with the Camphill medical practice, said: “We recognise that there are economic arguments for the Western Peripheral Route. However, for more than 10 years now the Camphill communities have objected in the strongest terms to the planned routing.
“Surveying work has begun in earnest and we are already seeing how this, in itself, is unsettling and stressing some of the children, their parents and adults in the community.
“If the Camphill Community was a site of special scientific interest, the road would probably not be permitted to encroach upon it. Surely a site of special human interest like Camphill must deserve even greater protection.”
The Camphill Movement, with 90 centres around the world, was founded in Aberdeen 64 years ago. Its purpose is to create safe and supportive communities that provide a home for vulnerable children and adults, encouraging them to reach their full potential.
Dr Geider added: “The safety issues are all too obvious. Many of the Camphill residents have either a fascination for, or fear of, traffic. Often this is combined with a lack of appreciation of danger.
“The new road would also sever the links between Newton Dee and Murtle and destroy an area of farmland that has been cultivated using biodynamic and organic techniques, for almost 60 years.”
Residents of Camphill Community say their work, home, health, safety and recreation facilities are all threatened by the proposed road. They also believe that their concerns have not been properly heard or understood.
The community has already found several supporters, including Aberdeen businessman Ian Kerr, the director of Cornerstone Care, who has no direct link to Camphill, but is concerned about the impact the road could have.
Milltimber and Bieldside councillor, Matthew Duncan, has also given his backing to the campaign and called justification for the road “dubious.”
Mr Duncan said: “As a member of Newton Dee's Local Management Committee, I am very supportive of their campaign against the Western Peripheral Route. The justification given for the road is highly dubious, and flies in the face of actual research that has been carried out into the project.
“The Oscar Faber report that was published in 1998 pointed out that the road would lead to a reduction in city centre congestion of just 2%. This seems to me to be poor value for money at an estimated cost of 120 million.
“It seems fairly obvious that Jack McConnell's announcement just months before last year's Scottish Parliament elections that the Scottish Executive would fund the road was a blatant attempt to buy Aberdeen for Labour.
In that respect, the move was a failure, but the villagers at Newton Dee are going to have to live with the consequences.”
Further information about the Save Camphill campaign is available on-line at www.savecamphill.org.uk.