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FERGUS EWING: Road improvements are my top priority

By Fergus Ewing

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A9 section due to be dualled.
A9 section due to be dualled.

MY thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in a road traffic incident at Slochd on the A9 recently.

Many people have written to me following this tragedy, reiterating concerns about the need to complete the dualling of the A9. Let me assure all who read the Courier that this, alongside the promised dualling of the A96 from Inverness to Hardmuir including the Nairn bypass, are my top priorities in the constituency work I do, and that when parliament resumes, I shall again be pressing the Scottish Government to confirm and detail plans for progress and completion of pledges made.

n The melodrama that government in the UK has become, and the fall of the Prime Minister has provided free summer entertainment for us all.

These events have been widely reported elsewhere but suffice to say that had Jeffrey Archer written a novel with this as the plot, it would have been dismissed as too remote from reality to be either convincing or credible!

n More conventional entertainment was provided in the Highlands at the beginning of the month at Caledonian Stadium. Andrea Bocelli performed here with full orchestra and choir, as part of his tour of 12 countries and 34 concerts.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading tenors, Bocelli became totally blind at age of 12 following a brain injury in a football accident. His music was sublime, and he was joined by our very own leading violinist Nicola Benedetti. It was great to see them perform in the Highlands, and what a wonderful night.

n A Holyrood Bill seeks to restrict the use of dogs to flush foxes. The current legislation allows packs of dogs to perform this necessary task. Hill packs are very important for control of predators and protection of farming interests and forestry.

Without that control, there will be for example, loss of lambs and ground nesting birds to predators. So, it is widely accepted that such control is a necessary part of land management in rural Scotland.

There is provision for a licensing system and much lobbying is being done to ensure that this will be simple, practical and available, where more than two dogs are needed to perform this work effectively.

My colleague Jim Fairlie, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, a former farmer, is pressing this case, and we have both met gamekeepers to hear about the practicalities and what is needed.

This is very important for many farmers and anyone concerned about this should please contact me.

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