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WATCH: Greens slammed as ‘morally corrupt’ after claiming A9 dualling is ‘a subsidy for wealthy, usually white men’ as new figures show single carriageways are twice as deadly as dualled sections

By Scott Maclennan

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A9 dualling project sign leading south out of Inverness.
A9 dualling project sign leading south out of Inverness.

New figures have thrown a stark new light on the positions of the two parties that until recently made up the Scottish Government on the case for dualling the A9 by confirming what many people already knew - dual carriageway is safer than single.

Transport Scotland numbers show that A9 single carriageways - with 199 injuries and 15 deaths - are twice as deadly as dual carriageways which experienced 114 injuries and seven deaths.

In a recent Holyrood debate, Highland Greens MSP Ariane Burgess claimed dualling the A9 would not make it that much safer while her colleague Maggie Chapman argued “road building is a subsidy for wealthy, usually white men”.

Then during a campaign event in Inverness at the weekend, First Minister John Swinney said “the government has taken forward the A9 dualling project, I think, in a timeous fashion given that we had a whole range of capital projects”.

Highland Greens MSP Ariane Burgess.
Highland Greens MSP Ariane Burgess.

Ms Burgess tried to argue that “the argument for road upgrades, which is based on safety concerns, is more complex than it might seem. For example, on the A9, accident rates and injury collisions are higher per mile on dualled sections than on non-dualled sections.”

The new Transport Scotland figures detailing injuries and fatalities in the 2020 to 2023 inclusive – a period when there were eight deaths on a 25-mile stretch near Slochd in just three months back in 2022.

That included a crash that took the lives of two grandparents and a grandchild from Inverness - David McPherson (68), Elza McPherson (64) and Harris Cochrane who was just two years old.

Last week, one woman lost her life near Carrbridge and four people were seriously injured and remain in hospital - the month before, 42-year-old Morven Gordon, from the Aviemore area, also died in yet another crash at Slochd.

That is hard to tally with Ms Chapman’s position that “road building is a subsidy for wealthy, usually white men, who are the main beneficiaries of reducing journey times between cities.”

Laura Hansler, from the Dual the A9 campaign group, said: “The Greens are morally corrupt and don’t deal with actual easily obtainable facts seeking to gaslight the electorate to their ideologies.

“What the Greens seem to be unable and indeed unwilling to observe is that infrastructure that was never future-proofed back in the ‘70s simply can’t withstand the sheer influx of traffic and the type of traffic we are now experiencing.

“I put it to them that the fact is the people of the Highlands and Islands do indeed deserve both. The hard and unpalatable factors for the Greens is that life in the Highlands and Islands requires that to go about our daily and necessary business we need roads, safe and modern roads in line with the rest of the UK.”

Fergus Ewing is furious about the SNP’s failure to dual the A9 on time, he is pictured near the A9 at the Carrbridge turn off. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Fergus Ewing is furious about the SNP’s failure to dual the A9 on time, he is pictured near the A9 at the Carrbridge turn off. Picture: Callum Mackay.

Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing took part in the debate, he said afterwards: “The figures show clearly that more people lose their lives in incidents on single rather than on dual carriageways.

“Behind these grim statistics lie families devastated through loss of a loved one. I was shocked and disgusted by comments made by two Green MSPs recently in a debate. They seem oblivious to the imperative of safety and avoiding further loss of life through completing the dualling of the A9.”

Mr Ewing says he is not taking the pressure off: “Next week, I am leading a cross party group of MSPs from all parties except the Greens to meet the First Minister to urge him to consider accelerating the plans to dual by 2035.

“That is far too long. Industry assure me it can be done sooner. And the Nairn Bypass should be included in any scheme involving capital raising. The finance and banking sector is up for this too.”

Had the Scottish Government kept to its original deadline to dual the Inverness-Perth stretch of the A9, it would have been finished within the next 18 months. Instead, the new timeline “targets” but does not promise a 2035 conclusion.

During a visit to Inverness on Sunday, Mr Swinney said: “Since we came to office obviously we've taken on significant improvements on the A9. We have also gone to the dualled sections - with Luncarty to Pass of Birnam being completed, and Kincraig-Dalraddy being completed - and [we’re] looking forward very much to the awarding of the contract on Moy-Tomatin.

“I very much welcome the commitment of The Inverness Courier to this issue. I welcome the campaign that has been undertaken by The Inverness Courier and I assure the people of the Highlands of the government's commitment to deliver the dualling of the A9 and we have a programme which I believe enables us to do so.”

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