MSP Ewing's pledge over Inverness to Nairn dualling and Nairn bypass
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LOCAL MSP Fergus Ewing has pledged he will continue to press the case for dualling of the A96 between Nairn and Inverness and the Nairn bypass.
The next stage is to secure funding, but the project could still take several years to complete.
He has confirmed that this stretch of the A96 will not be part of the environmental test process agreed between the Greens and SNP which is likely to take until the end of 2022 to complete.
Mr Ewing said transport minister Graeme Dey said the Nairn bypass and dualling to Inverness would not be part of that test because it was already through a full planning process and rigorous planning inquiry.
Mr Ewing said: “This objective – the completion of the preliminaries – has been completed. So our section is first and it is the only section of the road which is this ready.”
He said he wanted to remove the concerns of local people who were questioning the commitment of the Scottish Government to dualling this stretch of road.
“My priority all along was to secure completion of this essential preliminary work so that our part of the A96 was ready to proceed to the tender stage – in other words be ready for the funding decision to be taken,” Mr Ewing said.
“I am pressing as hard as anyone can for our project to be approved for funding, and that a timescale for delivery is set.
“Speaking to leaders of civil engineering companies, I am advised that any major section upgrade may typically take some years to complete.
“But the key aim now is to win the funding.
“I am arguing that it is now the Highlands’ turn.
“Others parts of the country have seen major transport projects completed and delivered – and that is good.
“But now it is surely our turn for our projects – principally the dualling of the A9 and A96 – to be delivered. And the A96 delivery should start with our section.”
He went on: “I take this as my top priority as the local constituency MSP. Having promised to deliver for so long, this is for me, is a matter of honour.
“I am working locally with the [Highland] council, councillors, chamber of commerce, Nairn BID, local surveyors and land owners and generally everyone and anyone that wishes to see the bypass, and the upgrades.”
The council’s Nairn area leader Tom Heggie said: “I note and welcome the continuing efforts of our MSP to maintain the momentum for a Nairn bypass.
“I also welcome the clarity around the stage we are at and hope we might have news of funding being made available soon.
“We [as elected members] continue to support every effort being made to emphasise the need for the bypass on grounds of health and safety.
“Mr Dey has an open invitation to visit Nairn and engage with local people and groups.”