Continuing £6 billion dualling of A9 and A96 ‘up for debate’, says Scottish Government roads chief

Doubts have been cast over the future of the £6 billion dualling of the A9 and A96 after the Scottish Government’s head of roads said it was “up for debate”.

The admission follows environmental campaigners calling for a halt to the huge road projects following the SNP administration’s declaration of a “climate emergency”.

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The £3bn A9 dualling between Perth and Inverness is due to be completed by 2025, with construction under way.

The £3bn A96 scheme between Aberdeen and Inverness is planned by 2030.

Transport Scotland director of roads Hugh Gillies told the Scottish Parliament’s connectivity committee: “All this is up for debate as part of the strategic transport projects review.”

He was responding to Greens transport spokesman John Finnie, who asked him: “Is there a review of whether we are going to continue with the dualling of the A9 and A96?”

Mr Gillies also told him there was a wider review of other new roads.

He said: “The road building programme is under review, and that’s through the national transport strategy and the strategic transport projects review, which will be the follow-on.

“That will determine where the Scottish Government will take forward its transport infrastructure planning and delivery. The road building programme will be taken as part of a consideration of that.”

Mr Finnie said later: “The Scottish Government has been all over the place on how its road building programme will be affected since the First Minister declared a climate emergency. So I’m pleased government officials confirmed at committee that these projects may indeed be cancelled after all.”

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2019-20 blueprint last month made no mention of the A96 scheme but said it would focus on “securing the investment needed to complete the dualling of the A9”.

Transport Scotland said later it remained committed to the projects. Its spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness and the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen, underlining its commitment to connecting Scotland’s cities with a high quality transport system that will sustainable generate economic growth.”