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First Minister John Swinney is open to dualling the A9 sooner than 2035 according to a cross-party group of MSPs

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister of Scotland John Swinney. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
First Minister of Scotland John Swinney. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

A cross-party group of MSPs representing all the major parties in Holyrood has welcomed the “positive response” from the First Minister to their plea to dual the A9 sooner than 2035.

The meeting with John Swinney involved Fergus Ewing (SNP), Rhoda Grant (Lab), Edward Mountain (Conservative), and Willie Rennie (Liberal Democrat) – Ash Regan (Alba) also supports the effort but did not attend.

However, dualling campaigner Laura Hansler was less positive in her assessment and said the First Minister appeared “reticent” to consider changes despite another death on the road at the weekend.

The primary aim of the meeting was for us to advocate for the acceleration of the Scottish Government's current plan to dual the A9 can which will not be complete until 2035 – a decade after the original deadline.

The cross-party group of MSPs issued this joint statement signifying the extent of support for this project across the parties represented in Holyrood while only the Green Party has “set its face against” the A9 dualling project.

The statement: “We were grateful for the meeting with the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop today.

“The meeting closely followed an incident on Sunday the 23rd June, where yet another life was lost on the A9. Every death devastates an entire family and evidence proves that the sooner the road is dualled the fewer more people lose their lives.

“Furthermore, we all welcomed the response of the First Minister today to our joint advocacy that the programme be completed sooner than 2035. Given his long-standing constituency interest in the North Perthshire sections of the A9, the FM clearly understands the issues very well, and was sympathetic to our pleas that the work can and should be done sooner than 2035.

“The key barriers are finance, disruption, capacity of the civil sector, particularly in the light of other major alternative civil engineering works to be undertaken in Scotland now and for the next decades.

“The First Minister told us he was sympathetically disposed to looking carefully at whether a faster time scale can be planned, and if so, how this can be achieved in practice.

“We discussed with him both procurement and finance issues. We shall continue to press this case particularly given the importance of dualling to provide a safer road where the risk of ‘head-on’ collisions and their awful consequences is removed.

“We also discussed at the meeting ways to improve safety in the meantime until dualling is completed, and Highland community campaigner, Laura Hansler attended the meeting and spoke eloquently of many additional ways to do this and on the need to improve communication to the public regards roads closures, and of alternative routes, and far better welfare help for those people stranded in vehicles for hours in hot weather.”

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