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Blow to The Inverness Courier's A82 safety campaign

By Louise Glen

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A82: Make it Safe
A82: Make it Safe

A blow was dealt to the Inverness Courier petition to have the A82 upgraded after the Scottish Government petitions committee decided not to take it forward.

The road is known as the most dangerous in Scotland, the scene of 56 deaths over the last 10 years, yet committee members decided upgrading the road did not merit further discussion as a submission from Transport Scotland detailed 20 ways in which funding or potential funding was already in the pipeline to improve the road.

The committee did not take verbal representation from the Courier in support of the petition.

The Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee convenor, MSP Johann Lamont, moved to close the petition at a meeting held on Wednesday morning, suggesting Transport Scotland had the matter in hand.

Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart appealed to the committee to continue to discuss the matter, offering solutions to concerns about the road.

Highland MSP David Stewart
Highland MSP David Stewart

He said the road was unusually narrow for a trunk road, and there were conflicts between different groups of road users, with the needs of industry competing with those of local residents and tourists.

“I would congratulate the Inverness Courier for doing what a local campaigning newspaper is all about,” he said.

“The A82 has a poor reputation. I know all roads carry risks, but there are particular features of this road that make it worth more investigation.”

Mr Stewart highlighted the road’s geography, its very narrow carriageway, the high volume of tourism traffic, the difficulties of transportation along Loch Ness-side and high volumes of forestry and freight traffic.

He suggested much of the forestry and freight traffic could be moved out of the region by the introduction of government support for improved sea and canal links.

“The last 10 years have been 56 deaths on this road and one death on the road is too many,” he added.

Gail Ross
Gail Ross

Caithness and Sutherland MSP Gail Ross, as the committee’s deputy convener, said she was content to close the petition on the understanding the matter could be raised again if issues were not addressed within the year, and in the new parliamentary term.

Transport Scotland told the Scottish Parliament public petitions committee that improvements to the A82 are already in the pipeline.

It called the road, which runs from Dalnottar, near the Erskine Bridge, to the Longman Roundabout in Inverness, “a vital artery” for communities in Scotland.

In a submission to the petitions committee, after the Inverness Courier mounted the A82: Make it Safe campaign, it said: “In terms of future Scottish Government transport investment priorites over the next 20 years, these will be determined by the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) currently under way. The review will be undertaken in line with the Sustainable Travel and Investment Hierarchies set out in the National Transport Strategy (NTS2).

“It is an objective-led, evidence-based review of the the country’s strategic transport network across all transport modes. STPR2 will help to deliver the vision, priorities and outcomes for transport as set out in NTS2 and includes consideration of the A82.

“There are over 20 options being considered that are specifically for the A82.”

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