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Highland SNP MSP Fergus Ewing set to pressure First Minister in waiting John Swinney for urgent pledges on dualling ‘death trap’ A96

By Alasdair Fraser

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Fergus Ewing MSP (left) is set to pressure future First Minister John Swinney for a concrete timetable on A96 dualling.
Fergus Ewing MSP (left) is set to pressure future First Minister John Swinney for a concrete timetable on A96 dualling.

Highland MSP Fergus Ewing is demanding First Minister-in-waiting John Swinney makes a concrete pledge on A96 dualling before the Scottish Parliament’s summer recess.

The SNP member for Inverness and Nairn took to social media on Thursday evening to renew his calls for commitments and progress on the long-promised upgrade of the ‘death trap’ Inverness to Aberdeen route.

Citing “broken promises” by his own party to dual the route by 2030, despite £37 million being spent already, Mr Ewing declared it was his duty to stand up for constituents on the issue amid grave safety concerns.

Following the breakdown of the SNP-Greens Bute House Agreement, Mr Swinney is expected to replace Humza Yousaf unopposed as SNP leader and FM.

The A96 road.
The A96 road.

Mr Ewing wrote on ‘X’: “I am calling on the new leader to announce before the summer a timetable for the dualling of the A96 between Inverness & Auldearn, including the Nairn Bypass.

“This promised safer road is vital and, now the Greens are gone, I expect my party to deliver on its promises with no more delay.”

Elaborating on his demands, Mr Ewing told the Inverness Courier: “Now that John Swinney is set to become First Minister, he must make, or have his Cabinet Secretary for Transport make, a detailed statement setting out a timetable for the completion of the construction of the dualled section of the A96 from Inverness to Auldearn including the Nairn bypass.

“This is the section of the A96 that is ready to go to procurement, having had the preferred route agreed and the compulsory purchase and ancillary roads orders published.

“This dualling was promised back in 2009.

“£37 million has been spent already on this project and not an inch of tarmac has been laid. The people of Nairn have waited far too long, and the SNP Government have broken their promise to dual the A96 by 2030.

Fergus Ewing MSP. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Fergus Ewing MSP. Picture: Callum Mackay.

“We are now three years into this Session of Parliament and have waited whilst nothing has happened. The made orders should have been issued in the last decade.

“Therefore, I am calling on John Swinney to ensure that a detailed statement is issued before the end of the summer recess.

“It is my duty to stand up for my constituents in Holyrood. That's what I have sought to do and will continue to do.”

The subject of A96 dualling flared in heated debate at Holyrood on Thursday with the Greens claiming the long overdue A96 review would “inevitably” go against full dualling between Aberdeen and Inverness.

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater put the claim to Mr Yousaf in fractious exchanges a week after her party was dumped from government.

The A96.
The A96.

Greens oppose the major road project and a climate review of the scheme was ordered in summer 2021 as part of the SNP-Greens’ power-sharing agreement at Holyrood.

Ms Slater said: “Achieving our climate goals means drastically driving down car use.”

She instead called for spending on “safety improvements” and “better public transport” along the route.

The FM would not be drawn on the outcome of the review, which is well over a year late but expected in the coming months.

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