Salmond dodges flak to get M8 ball rolling

Alex Salmond at the M8 site.
Alex Salmond at the M8 site.

First Minister Alex Salmond launched the start of work on a motorway extension - and managed to dodge protestors angry at the loss of trees.

Mr Salmond performed a turf-cutting ceremony just a mile from Viewpark Glen and Douglas Support Estate which campaigners are fighting to save.

They were keen to confront the First Minister, but by the time they heard about the event he had carried out his duties and gone.

Trees have been cleared on the estate near Shawhead which prompted a demonstration by families earlier this month. They say generations have enjoyed the countryside which is home to all sorts of wildlife.

Transport Scotland says the work is essential for the M8 upgrade between Baillieston and Newhouse, but Viewpark Conservation Group suspects a plan for a link road to Strathclyde Business Park.

An online petition to ‘stop the destruction’ of the glen has been signed by more than 1,000 people and it’s intended to present it to Mr Salmond.

The conservation group’s Grace McNeill said they have tried previously to contact the First Minister about their campaign.

Mrs McNeill added: “When we heard he was so near we raced down the road, but when we got there he was gone.”

The group plans to invite MSPs and councillors to a public meeting soon.

Mr Salmond signalled the start of a £500 million project which will include a new six-mile motorway stretch to replace the A8 between Baillieston and Newhouse and complete the M8.

There will also be a new A8, running between Baillieston and Eurocentral, and major improvements to the M74 at the Raith Interchange to cut down congestion on the motorway and the East Kilbride Expressway.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland, said: “The contractor is clearing those areas of the site which are required for the construction of the new motorway.

“Adjacent areas of woodland are being retained as detailed in the project plans and in the environmental statement previously published for the project. The works are being supervised by environmental specialists to ensure that there will be no unnecessary impacts on the landscape or environment.”