A Highland MSP has said the SNP would be making a “huge error of judgement” if plans to fully dual the local A96 were scrapped.
The Scottish Government recently announced that targets to complete the dualling of the A9 by 2025 would not be met, sparking fears that plans for a fully-dualled A96 would also be effected.
Since the SNP-Green alliance formed in 2021, the government has started to review its transport plans and now the A96 project is subject to an environmental impact assessment.
Now, Scottish Conservative MSP, Edward Mountain fears that the project could be scrapped, which would be the wrong decision in his view.
“The SNP are not serving the interests of the Highlands by delaying upgrades to the A96 or A9, they are only serving the interests of their anti-road Green coalition partners.
“Promises have been made and Highlanders expect them to be delivered, not broken.
“The Highlands and North East are in desperate need of modern and safe road infrastructure. Shelving these projects would not only risk road safety but also damage economic growth in the region”.
It was announced in December that a final decision on the full-dualling of the A96 would not be made until well into 2023. Subsequently, The Press and Journal ran a poll asking, “Should full A96 dualling go ahead?”, to which 93% of readers voted ’Yes’.
In October, the Scottish Conservatives obtained information from Police Scotland showing that 13 people had died and 108 had been injured in 69 crashes on the road between Huntly and Inverness since 2019.
A96 Action, a voluntary group focused on the proposed dualling of the A96 route, said they noted the A9 announcement “with little surprise”.
“The Scottish, UK and global, economic and environmental landscape has changed greatly over the last four years, and government projects which may once have been fiscally feasible may now be both economically and environmentally unviable.
“In saying that, we do believe that road safety upgrades are necessary in the Elgin-Forres-Nairn-Inverness corridor and we hope that funding will be allocated for these improvements to proceed as soon as possible”.
When asked whether the A9 announcement had any impact on the future of the A96, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “We remain committed to delivering improvements along the A96 corridor”.
“We are now pushing forward with the next phase of further detailed work to inform the remaining stages of the Review.
“Outcomes [are] expected to be announced in the first half of 2023 for final public consultation, before a final decision can be reached”.