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Rise in A9 deaths is ‘inevitable’ as government is told 'it is within your power' to resolve

By Scott Maclennan

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Laura Hansler and an untouched section of A9 single carriageway.
Laura Hansler and an untouched section of A9 single carriageway.

The Scottish politicians most responsible for the A9 dualling programme have been told that “it is within your power and responsibility to progress this issue” as they were warned “the time has passed for excuses” because the “‘cast iron commitment’ is in danger of rusting away”.

A9 safety campaigner Laura Hansler has followed up her appearance at Holyrood’s petitions committee earlier this month, by writing to First Minister Humza Yousaf, transport secretary Mairi MacAllan and transport minister Fiona Hyslop.

Mr Yousaf has previously offered a “cast iron commitment” on completing the A9, following the admission that the SNP’s vow to dual the A9 from Inverness-Perth by 2025 was unachievable.

But without an end date in sight or even a date in the autumn for the update, Ms Hansler is pressing for some progress before the Holyrood recess starts this week.

It is hoped that more information about the dualling will be made available to the public at an A9 Crisis Summit hosted by The Inverness Courier on July 18, to which Mr Yousaf, Ms MacAllan and Ms Hyslop have been invited.

But in Ms Hansler’s blistering letter, she said concrete action is needed immediately: “Other than the inevitable increase in deaths on the A9 between now and then, what else will have changed by autumn?”

She was very clear that considering this as a political issue is a mistake.

“This isn’t a political problem, it’s a far-reaching problem which wrecks lives, communities, and futures,” she said in the letter.

“It is within your power and responsibility to progress this issue, there is a significant cross-party consensus that the A9 needs rapid action. Only the Greens remain blinkered on their own agenda rather than saving lives on the A9.”

Due to the pressures on the road due to tourism, and in particular the NC500, she fears: “Many more lives will be lost as the unacceptable risk in non-dualled sections continues to remain high.”

She said: “The A9 is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to show that they can work collaboratively, dynamically and prioritise people first.

Ms Hansler continued: “Waiting until autumn 2023 for an update on dualling the A9 due to having a new transport secretary and transport minister is simply unacceptable.

“Autumn 2023 was the date bandied about by your previous two transport ministers, so this is clearly a well established piece of work.

“There must be a collaborative solution involving ministers, Transport Scotland, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), civil engineering companies, communities, and other stakeholders.”

She concluded: “This isn’t a pandemic, but it is deadly. It is controllable and resolvable; and Scotland needs to show it can transform its transport challenges into successes.”

Contact for the summit: newsdesk@hnmedia.co.uk

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