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A9 and A96 dualling row: Douglas Ross and Richard Lochhead on opposite sides of the road

By Chris Saunderson

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The ongoing row over dualling of the A9 and A96 has seen criticism levelled at Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead for "failing to stand up" for his constituents on vital road upgrades.

The A9 road from Inverness to Perth at Slochd. Picture: John Davidson
The A9 road from Inverness to Perth at Slochd. Picture: John Davidson

The attack came from Highland MSP and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross following a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

However, while Mr Lochhead insisted he understood frustrations around the delay, he said ministers remained committed to dualling of both roads.

SNP transport minister Jenny Gilruth recently confirmed that the pledge to dual the A9 between Inverness and Perth by 2025 will now not be met.

Shadow transport minister Graham Simpson moved a motion calling on the SNP-Green government to outline a revised timetable as to when the A9 will be fully dualled, during a debate in parliament on Wednesday. The motion was not voted through.

Mr Ross claims the failure to dual the A9 on time is a “betrayal” of communities in the Highlands.

And he said Mr Lochhead should have followed the lead of SNP veteran Fergus Ewing who voted against the SNP whip and joined the criticism over the A9.

Is the A9 and A96 programmes at a crossroads or a dead end?
Is the A9 and A96 programmes at a crossroads or a dead end?

Mr Ross said the A9 delay will have a serious knock-on effect on the dualling of the A96 which has been “kicked into the long grass” since the SNP brought the Greens into government.

“Moray’s SNP MSP Richard Lochhead has serious questions to answer over his voting on the motion brought forward by my party. This offered a perfect opportunity for him to put his constituents first rather than his party."

However, Mr Lochhead hit back, and pointed to similar infrastructure delays in England.

“Right across the UK – including in England under the Tory government – we have seen delays in big infrastructure projects due to the double whammy of the pandemic and soaring inflation," he said.

“It took an SNP government to give the commitment to dual the A9 and get the project under way in the first place and ministers remain committed to completing the dualling.

“I absolutely understand the frustrations and strong feelings over this delay but would reiterate the SNP’s position remains that both the A9 and the A96 should be dualled.

“In order to address some of the very real concerns about safety, the Scottish Government is investing an additional £5 million in extra road safety measures on the A9 in the short term.”

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