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Confirmed: A9 dualling update ‘expected in the coming days’ but no detail beyond that

By Scott Maclennan

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A stretch of the A9 between Daviot and Tomatin turn off where conditions are already treacherous.
A stretch of the A9 between Daviot and Tomatin turn off where conditions are already treacherous.

Frustrated Highlanders are tonight none the wiser about when the long-awaited and much delayed update on the A9 dualling programme will be made.

Despite ministerial assurances it is “expected in the coming days” there was no clear date and a majority of MSPs refused to back a motion securing an update before Christmas.

Earlier today MSP Edward Mountain appeared to have secured the clearest indication yet that news was imminent when the minister for parliamentary business George Adam said the update is expected “in the coming days.”

The update has been expected to be delivered in the autumn and given the track record of broken A9 promises another imprecise pledge from the government was met with mistrust.

Mr Adams then reworded his statement when confronted MSP Willie Rennie about the “frustration” in the north caused by the government’s “prevarication” saying “in the coming days there will be details about the statement.”

Pouring fuel on the flames, the Scottish Parliament then voted down a move by Highland MSP Douglas Ross demanding an A9 dualling update before the end of parliamentary session by a vote of 62 to 56.

MSPs George Adam and Douglas Ross get into it over the A9 update
MSPs George Adam and Douglas Ross get into it over the A9 update

Next week’s parliamentary business was confirmed by Mr Adam but it did not include any mention of the A9 update so Mr Ross tabled an amendment to secure time in Holyrood for that statement – but it was defeated.

Mr Ross said: “I am simply trying to get something inserted into the business that they [SNP-Greens] promised, that is why we are moving this amendment to have that statement next week.

“The most recent promise from this government was to provide a statement by the end of the year but in the business motion just moved by George Adam, taking us up to the Christmas recess and therefore the last opportunity this calendar year – there is no mention of that statement on dualling the A9.”

He added: “Earlier this afternoon, the SNP business manager in response to my colleague Edward Mountain told the chamber that it expects to update the parliament in the coming days – so why has it asked this parliament tonight to vote for a business statement that does not include a statement on the A9.”

George Adams said: “The Scottish Government remains committed to completing the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness and we expect to update on our renewed programme in the coming days.”

He added: “Now I don’t understand what the Conservative party cannot understand about ‘days’ – that sounds to me as if it is pretty imminent.”


However, A9 safety campaigner Laura Hansler was able to provide that answer to Mr Adam, saying: “They had a chance to guarantee a statement on the A9 dualling and they chose not to take it. Instead they said we will get one 'in the coming days.' I think we deserve a bit more respect than that - it seems to me they just don't give two hoots.

“It is incredibly disrespectful to all those who have already lost their lives, and the families facing another Christmas without their loved ones who innocently lost their lives going about their daily business.

"The weather is already freezing and it gets dark very early - the road conditions can be terrible. I think it is deeply unfair that we have not had real clarity on when we can expect even to hear what they have to say, far less the content of the update itself."

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes recognised that an updated timescale was promised and this was something she had raised "personally" with the transport minister.

She said: “The Scottish Government promised to provide an updated timescale for the remaining dualling programme before the end of the year.

“Many in the Highlands will be extremely disappointed if this doesn’t take place, and it is something I have already raised personally with the transport minister.”

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