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New A9 dualling deadline should be 'treated with scepticism' warns Inverness chief executive

By Rachel Smart

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Colin Marr. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Colin Marr. Picture: Callum Mackay..

The new A9 dualling deadline is 2035 – according to the Scottish Government's renewed “delivery programme”.

However, this should be 'treated with scepticism by the business community' warns the head of an Inverness business body.

Colin Marr, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce commented: "Given the delays to date, today’s announcement with a commitment to full dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2035 was welcome and is probably the best we could hope for. So I’d like to thank the cabinet secretary for the work that has clearly been done to reach this stage.

"While today’s announcement was welcome it will, and should be, be treated with scepticism by the business community given the track record to date on delivering this project. For each of the remaining nine sections – which will now be tackled as six projects - we need clear dates for when design will be published, when procurement will start, and when contracts will be awarded. We got some of that information today, but we also need to know how we will be updated on each of these. Given the delays so far, the business community are unlikely to trust today’s announcement until we see all these details and until we see road construction taking place.

"It was disappointing that the cabinet secretary sought to blame external factors like inflation and complexity for the lack of progress to date when there has been plenty of expert evidence that the original deadline of 2025 was achievable if there had been sufficient political will.

"Although further interim safety measures were mentioned today, there was little detail given. The overwhelming community calls are for clear and regular signage to remind drivers whether they are on single or dual carriageway sections, and for better lighting at all junctions. It remains to be seen whether this work is planned or not.

"Finally, the former deputy first minister sought to reassure us that the Scottish Government was good at delivering large scale infrastructure projects by listing the projects that have been completed across the rest of Scotland. This only strengthened the feeling that other parts of Scotland have had more attention and greater investment than the A9 which is vital for all Highland communities."

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