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A9 dualling: the conversation starts

By Tom Ramage

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Highlanders are being asked to share their views on how the much delayed A9 dualling project should be taken forward.

A special meeting – indeed, a unique one – was held at Kincraig Community Hall, half a mile or so from an actual stretch of dualled A9, this morning to launch the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee 'conversation' which will run until September 15.

A9 Kincraig petitions committee at Kincraig Community Hall. Piicture: Callum Mackay..
A9 Kincraig petitions committee at Kincraig Community Hall. Piicture: Callum Mackay..

Various local organisations were represented when convener Jackson Carlaw reassured them that Parliament and not Government would be handling the formal consultation into the £3 billion dream of dualling the A9 all the way from Perth to Inverness.

Colin Marr, chief executive for Inverness Chamber of Commerce was present at the launch of the consultation. He said afterwards: “The Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament are wanting to go to the wider community and hear from people who use the road.

Colin Marr chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Colin Marr chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Callum Mackay..

“It’s unusual for them to do this, and this gives us another group within the Parliament that will put the pressure on to get the road dualled.”

Mr Marr is now urging businesses and those who use the road to fill out the consultation and make their voices heard.

“We will be encouraging of all our Chamber members and anyone affected by the road to make their voices heard.

“We know that the road is so damaging, and it causes injuries and fatalities.

"And for businesses it creates longer travel times, and it makes recrutiing staff to the Highlands even harder.

“At the meeting today there was a sense of agreement that we need safety measures in place on the A9 in the meantime.”

The Scottish Government finally publicly acknowledged in February what many had known for a long-time – that the deadline set in 2011 was ‘unachievable’.

More than 100 people have died on the A9 since 2009 with 13 of those people killed in crashes on the Inverness-Perth stretch last year alone.

The committee is also keen to gather views on the most effective interim safety measures and a national memorial to those who have lost their lives on the arterial road.

The initiative has come about following the successful petitioning of Holyrood by Kincraig-based campaigner Laura Hansler and other members of the A9 Dual Action group.

She said: “We want everyone to get involved in this conversation, not just to establish a new timetable for completion of the dualling but to push for a procurement policy fit for purpose.

“We want action now on improving safety measures today."

Convener: Jackson Carlaw. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Convener: Jackson Carlaw. Picture: Callum Mackay..

Mr Carlaw (Scottish Conservative, Eastwood) is convener of the petitions committee and his fellow members are:

Deputy convener David Torrance (SNP, Kirkcaldy); Foysal Choudhury (Scottish Labour, Lothian); Maurice Golden (Scottish Conservative, NE Scotland) and Fergus Ewing (SNP, Inverness and Nairn).

The consultation can be found at https://engage.parliament.scot/community/9760

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