Edward Mountain MSP has claimed the SNP-Green Government are ‘wasting precious time’ by not progressing to the construction of the A96 Inverness to Nairn scheme more rapidly.
The project received a Ministerial Decision to proceed in February 2021; however the SNP Transport Minister has confirmed that scheme still requires to complete statutory processes, including the formal publication of one Compulsory Purchase Order “in the coming weeks.”
A freedom of information request, lodged by Edward Mountain MSP, also revealed that £29,560,913.16 has been spent on the project so far.
A further £2,121,858.42 has also been spent so far on the A96 Corridor Review which is assessing the environmental impact of the full A96 dualling project. The review came about as part of the SNP-Green coalition agreement and stalled progress on A96 upgrades beyond the Inverness to Nairn section. The review is due to be published at the end of this year.
In a written question, Edward Mountain MSP asked: “the Scottish Government on what specific date it will announce the delivery timeline for the dualling of the A96 Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) scheme.”
The SNP Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth MSP replied: “We continue to progress the preparation stages on the A96 Dualling Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) scheme with a view to completing the statutory process. This includes the significant work required to prepare for publication of made Orders, including the Compulsory Purchase Order, in the coming weeks. Subject to no legal challenge being received, the Scottish Ministers will then have the relevant powers to acquire the land necessary to construct the scheme.
“Delivery of the scheme can only commence if approved under the relevant statutory procedures and thereafter a timetable for progress can be set in line with available budgets. It is not possible to set a firm programme for delivery of the scheme until statutory consents are completed.”
Highlands and Islands MSP, Edward Mountain commented:
“Highlanders have waited long enough for construction to start on the dualling of the Inverness to Nairn section of the A96.
“It’s now been 18 months since this shovel ready project received Ministerial approval but precious time is being wasted.
“I welcome the investment so far but there is a high price to pay for more dithering and delay on vital infrastructure projects, as we’ve seen with the spiralling costs of HMP Highland which has doubled in price.
“That’s why we need to see rapid progress towards construction now. Every day wasted also means safety is being risked on a route that desperately needs modernising.
“The SNP and Green’s A96 Corridor Review has also costed in excess of £2 million and is only serving to frustrates the region’s clear need for further trunk road improvements.
“I believe the entirety of the A96 should be dualled as originally promised but the SNP remain in thrall to the Green’s anti-motorist and anti-road agenda.”