KilliecrAnkie 1689 was established in January 2018 to campaign for a more sensitive road plan over the Killiecrankie battlefield than the scheme proposed by Transport Scotland.   Our objection was one of 163 still outstanding when a Public Local Inquiry (PLI) was held two years later to examine Transport Scotland’s proposals.  Most of the objections concerned impacts on the battlefield.
The Covid epidemic delayed the Report on the PLI being submitted until 9 June 2022.  Five months later the Scottish Ministers decided to accept the Reporter’s recommendation in favour of Transport Scotland’s scheme.  The decision is final.
For us and the 5,766 people who signed our petition, it is disappointing that we lost the battle.  Even worse is the fact that Scotland has failed the first test of its ambition to protect important battlefields.   There is a gap – wide enough to hold 4 lanes of traffic – between what Scotland claims it protects and what it actually does.
Even though it is too late for Killiecrankie battlefield, the discussion that the PLI  provoked has highlighted a number of issues.  Some are particular to Killiecrankie; some have wider implications for Scotland’s aim to protect its cultural heritage.   For example:
·       Historic Environment Scotland’s Inventory of Historic Battlefields cannot defend a battlefield when up against a transport project of the size of A9 dualling;
·       An Inventory battlefield does not have elevated status and is only one of many environmental considerations;
·       The heart of Killiecrankie battlefield where fighting was concentrated is not listed in the Inventory and, therefore, is not recognised in the planning system;
·       Design engineers, Jacobs and Transport Scotland only consider impacts on key landscape characteristics and special qualities that are listed in the Inventory;
·       The Reporter says that it is “understandable” that objectors want to protect the highly sensitive core area but, in this planning process, the heart of the battlefield is immaterial;
·       Jacobs and Transport Scotland claim that building the road over the core area of fighting is preferable to widening on the other side where landscape characteristics – rock – can be preserved;
·       The Reporter did not share this view, saying he thinks that there would be comparable adverse impacts whether northbound or southbound widening is pursued;
·       The Reporter agrees that the design of the road will increase the sense of severance of the battlefield over that currently experienced;
·       The Reporter qualified his recommendation to Ministers by saying that should they wish to reduce the footprint of the scheme within the battlefield, they could reconsider the question of including lay-bys there.
In the event, Scottish Ministers chose not to eliminate lay-bys from the battlefield and have given the go-ahead to the scheme to widen on the northbound carriageway, as presented by Transport Scotland.  Thus they have missed an opportunity to reduce the adverse impact on the historic site.