Scottish transport bosses are looking at building more visitor friendly laybys on the A9 after fierce criticism of “pathetic” provision.
Veteran land campaigner Dave Morris said Scotland is “probably the worst country in Europe for visitor provision close to the road” as he called for change to the A9 dualling plans.
Mr Morris, who lives in Kinnesswood near Kinross, hit out at the size and scarcity of spaces laid out in final plans for dualling the main route between Perth and Inverness.
He said: “Landowners have been far, far too resistant to giving up land in order to provide the right facilities.
“One of the worst examples is the new dualling of the A9. If you look at the small laybys they are providing along that road, they are absolutely pathetic.”
‘Worst in Europe’
He has been campaigning for Transport Scotland to create new plans and use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the necessary land from the adjacent landowners.
He said the lack of proper laybys was contributing to a range of problems, including dumped rubbish and the kind of irresponsible ‘dirty camping’ seen in the area last summer
Mr Morris, the recent winner of the 13th Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, called on Scottish Transport minister Michael Matheson to order a re-examination of the dualling proposals.
“My son lives in Norway and we drive there quite often,” he said.
“In every other European country the arrangements for pulling off the road and parking, using the toilet and having refreshments, are far, far superior to Scotland.”
‘Enhanced’ laybys an option
A Transport Scotland spokesman said the lay-bys along the A9 would be designed to trunk road standards and “carefully located” to provide safe respite from traffic and, where possible, take account of the local landscape features.
“Over and above that we are looking at providing some larger enhanced laybys with improved facilities,” he added.
“These laybys will be designed to fit with the surroundings and provide links to specific facilities such as viewpoint access, or provide links to the existing footpath and cycle route network.
“The details of these will be developed as each scheme is procured and taken forward to construction.”
Mr Morris won the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture earlier this month as part of the Fort William Mountain Festival
As a former director of Ramblers Scotland, he was instrumental in delivering the Land Reform Scotland Act in 2003.
The legislation established sweeping new rights, modelled on those in Scandanavian countries, for people to access most land and water.