Batman location film shoot could shut the A9
A HOLLYWOOD blockbuster could shut the Highlands’ main transport artery — the A9 — to allow film-makers to capture dramatic shots of a huge military plane landing on it.
The route, which carries thousands of vehicles a day, could play a starring role in the next Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" after Warner Bros approached Transport Scotland about shooting scenes for the multi-million dollar movie.
Oscar winning actor Christian Bale stars as the Caped Crusader in the film scheduled for release in July next year.
Scenes have already been shot in India and America and it is understood the film makers want to land a burning Hercules plane on the A9 in a key scene which could take three days to film, although it could be shortened if done at night.
The massive military aircraft, which flew into Inverness Airport on Saturday morning, has a wingspan of more than 40 metres and is almost 30 metres long.
Transport Scotland yesterday confirmed the production company had identified the A9 as a potential location but could not say which section. A spokeswoman insisted it was too early to comment about a potential closure but stressed any disruption to motorists would be a primary concern.
"The production team have made initial enquiries into the possibility of using part of the road network for a movie location," she said.
"They are looking at a number of sites across Scotland and asked if they could come and have a look at some points on the network.
"We have asked them to seek the support of the police before submitting further details."
Acting inspector Norman MacLeod, of Northern Constabulary’s road policing unit, said the force had not yet been contacted by the film makers. However, he predicted as long as a traffic management plan was put in place the police would not object.
"It is very early days and we have not had formal notification but generally the policy is that Transport Scotland would ask for our views on things like this," he said.
"There is normally a risk assessment by the company carried out, in this case the film makers, and a traffic management plan, if needed."
But motoring organisation the AA warned any potential road restrictions could take in a wider area than the trunk route if filming was given the green light.
"If there are any health and safety issues, they will make a no-go area even larger than just the piece of road affected which may be the case here given there is fire involved," said an AA spokesman.
Tesco lorries are regular users of the A9 and the supermarket said it would implement contingency plans to ensure goods made it to stores if the road was shut.
The Road Haulage Association called for any disruption to be kept to an absolute minimum because the A9 was such a strategic part of the road network.
Chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce Stewart Nicol commented: "It’s important to welcome all that would bring to the region but we have to obviously make sure any impact for the closure of the A9 minimises disruption."
The plane which would be used in the scene was formerly flown by the US air force. Yesterday it was parked at Inverness Airport in front of the former Highland Airways company hangar.
Airport managing director Inglis Lyon admitted there was "some activity" at Dalcross over the weekend but refused to comment further because he was bound by the confidentiality agreement signed with the production company.
Warner Bros declined to discuss the matter.