The director of Scotland’s trunk road network has insisted the dualling of the A9 will still form part of the government’s over-arching review of major projects.
Transport Scotland moved to clarify its commitment to completing the widening of the A9 Perth to Inverness road and the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness carriageway following comments made at a Holyrood committee.
During the rural affairs committee meeting yesterday, Scottish Green MSP John Finnie asked the agency’s director of roads Hugh Gillies: “Is there a review of whether we are going to continue with the dualling of the A9 and A96?”
Mr Gillies responded: “All of it is up for debate as part of the strategic transport projects review (STPR).”
The STPR, which is being carried out at the same time as a review of the National Transport Strategy, will set out future major investment priorities for Scotland.
Following the committee, Mr Finnie said: “Greens have repeatedly raised the proposed dualling of the A9 and A96 with the Scottish Government, and while the First Minister has said that all government projects are currently under review, both the Deputy First Minister and Transport Secretary have indicated that the programme will proceed regardless.
“So I’m pleased that government officials confirmed at committee that these projects may indeed be cancelled after all, it’s now time for ministers to match their ‘world leading’ climate rhetoric with actions, consign these major road-building projects to the dustbin, and invest in sustainable transport options for the north and north east instead.”
Mid Scotland and Fife Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “I want urgent confirmation from the Scottish Government they will be continuing with the whole A9 dualling programme.
“Local people ran an energetic campaign for years to get this dangerous road upgraded.
“After many years it was agreed by the SNP Government, and it would be an absolute betrayal if this policy was dropped now.
“This is primarily a road safety issue – there has been a high death toll on the A9 Perth to Inverness road for many years. Lives will be at risk if this programme stops now.”
Transport Scotland insisted it was fully committed to seeing the projects through.
A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness and the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen, underlining its commitment to connecting Scotland’s cities with a high quality transport system that will sustainable generate economic growth.
“When complete these ambitious programmes will bring many benefits to local communities, businesses, visitors and road users living, travelling and working along the routes.
“These include reduced journey times, improved journey time reliability and, crucially, improve road safety for all users.”