THE SNP’s transport minister has conceded she cannot say if the Scottish Government will be able to deliver on a commitment to fully dual the A96 by the end of the decade.
New figures released by the Scottish Government this week show 11 people died and 82 were seriously injured on the road between Aberdeen to Inverness since 2019.
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Douglas Lumsden said the SNP Government should be ashamed of themselves after Fiona Hyslop said the Inverness to Nairn section was more of a “priority” than dualling between Aberdeen and Huntly.
She couldn’t say if the commitment to dual the A96 in full by 2030 would be met but admitted the SNP needed to be held accountable for the pledge made in 2011.
Plans spanning more than a decade to dual the A96 in full were put on hold after the SNP formed a coalition with the Greens in 2021.
As part of the power-sharing deal, a review of the project costing almost £4 million was undertaken after the Greens raised “urgent” environmental impact concerns about fully dualling the A96.
The questionnaire found 88% of respondents were very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with the availability of safe overtaking opportunities, 79% were not happy with the levels of traffic congestion and 76% were not satisfied with the length of journey times.
At the Scottish Parliament’s transport committee, Mr Lumsden, who is also the shadow cabinet secretary for transport, said a crash on Thursday near Huntly which resulted in the road being closed for six hours should be a wake-up call to the SNP who were putting lives at risk by delaying the upgrade.
Following the committee session, Mr Lumsden said: “It’s glaringly and shamefully obvious from the transport minister’s response at committee that there is no intention to dual the A96 between Aberdeen and Huntly or build a bypass at Inverurie and Keith.
“She openly admitted that the Inverness to Nairn section was more of a priority and during the SNP’s time in government, they’ve been more focussed on other projects which is a kick in the teeth to North East residents.
“The A96 figures are horrifying and are a damning indictment of more than a decade of false promises and excuses from the SNP to avoid fully dualling the road.
“Fiona Hyslop, Humza Yousaf and the rest of the SNP Government should be ashamed of themselves for disowning communities whose lives are being put at risk on a daily basis when travelling on this dangerous road.
“On Thursday, we saw the tragic consequences of this inaction when two people were injured in a crash near Huntly resulting in an air ambulance being called.
“Enough is enough. How many more of these collisions will it take for the SNP Government to grow a backbone, stand up to the Greens and fully dual the road from Aberdeen to Inverness.”
When questioned by Mr Lumsden, Ms Hyslop responded: “I think the sensible thing is to see what the review says in terms of the assessments of the options because clearly whatever options are then recommended, will have an impact in terms of the timescale for production of that, as will the capital availability for that.
“Currently the proposal is to dual the A96 with the priority being the Inverness to Nairn section.”
She added: “Clearly we want to meet timescales that have been committed to.
“We are talking about timescales from 2011 coming out of a period which is 12 years ago. I understand all governments need to be held accountable.
“This government has been in power for a considerable amount of time. We have had focus on a number of major transport areas. The review has taken place and you will receive that once the assessment has been done.”