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A9 dualling programme update timetable gaffe slammed by Highland MSP

By Philip Murray

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A9 dualling work has repeatedly slipped back.
A9 dualling work has repeatedly slipped back.

Transport chiefs and the Scottish Government have been left with egg on their face after publishing a document about updates on the A9 dualling programme that is already out of date.

Highland MSP Rhoda Grant said she was shocked when the newly-published National Transport Strategy Delivery Plan stated that Transport Scotland said it "expected" to update parliament on the A9 dualling timetable in "autumn 2023" – despite us already being into meteorological winter.

The Labour MSP was yesterday assured by the Scottish Government through a Written Parliamentary Question that the season of Autumn “is not defined beyond commonly understood” terms however, today she said the Scottish Government contradicted themselves and said that they will update the Scottish Parliament on the A9 programme for completion in Autumn 2023.

Related: New research suggests it will take 111 years to dual the A9 at the current rate of investment

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In the publication (page 17) it says: “Work to determine the most suitable procurement options for the remaining sections of the A9 dualling is now well advanced and we expect to update Parliament on a new programme to completion in Autumn 2023.”

Rhoda Grant.
Rhoda Grant.

Ms Grant said: “Autumn is over! Yet here we are being told that Parliament will be updated on the A9 completion timetable in Autumn 2023. I am shocked especially as I was told yesterday that there is no definition beyond those commonly understood.

“This maybe an oversight by the Scottish Government but regardless it highlights their lack of understanding on the importance of this project. We have seen nothing but delays and missed deadlines!

Additionally, the regional MSP has submitted an FOI into Transport Scotland to enquire whether land has been purchased for the A96 Nairn Bypass as this publication has led her to believe that compulsory purchases have not began yet.

In the delivery plan publication (page 17) it says: “We also continue to take forward the preparation stages for dualling the A96 from Inverness to Nairn as well as a bypass of Nairn with a view to completing the statutory authorisation process. This includes the significant ongoing and intensive work required to prepare for publication of Made Orders, including the Compulsory Purchase Order.”

Reacting to the document, Ms Grant continued: “On the A96 Nairn Bypass, I have enquired whether land has been compulsory purchased as again, we cannot afford to see further delays to this project. A bypass has been necessary for years!”

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