SNP ‘knows full well’ A9 dualling won’t be finished by 2025 but dishonestly won’t admit it – Conservatives

Ministers were accused today of dishonesty in knowing "full well" the £3 billion A9 dualling project won't be finished on time in 2025 but refusing to admit it.

The claim by the Scottish Conservatives came as Transport Scotland told The Scotsman the next section to be dualled is not expected to be completed until 2025 – and preparations for five longer stretches are less far advanced.

Nicola Sturgeon failed to confirm whether the A9’s 2025 finish date would be met despite being asked twice at First Minister’s Questions over the last month.

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She told Conservative rural economy spokesperson Jamie Halcro Johnston it would be “progressed as quickly as possible”.

Transport Scotland has launched a “market consultation” with the construction industry over how the rest of the scheme will be finished, which is due to report this summer.

Dualling of the A9 between Inverness and Perth is being completed to improve safety in one of Scotland’s largest-ever transport projects.

Mr Halcro Johnson said: “It is clear the SNP Government and their transport agency simply don’t want to be honest and upfront about the complete lack of progress on dualling the A9 on time.

“Having pressed the First Minister and the transport secretary [Michael Matheson] repeatedly on this, it’s been painful trying to get a straight answer on when people can expect this vital infrastructure project to be completed.

The Kincraig-Dalraddy stretch near Aviemore is the only one of 11 new sections of A9 dual carriageway to have been completed. Picture: Transport Scotland

“It is now difficult to avoid the conclusion they know full well that this project will now not be completed on in time by 2025 and deadlines will be pushed back.

“The SNP don’t want to tell voters across this area before the election in May they are failing to deliver on their promises.

“It is time for them and Transport Scotland to finally be honest if timescales have slipped.”

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The then Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown in 2014 showing the 11 A9 sections to be dualled. Picture: Jane Barlow

Transport Scotland said the £115 million contract for the next stage, six miles between Tomatin to Moy, was expected to be awarded “in the second half of 2022” and take “approximately three years”.

Other stretches of the road still to be dualled include 15 miles between Dalraddy and Slochd, 13 miles between Killiecrankie and Glen Garry, 10 miles between Crubenmore and Kincraig, 7 miles between Dalwhinnie and Crubenmore and some 6 miles between Pass of Birnam and Tay Crossing.

There is also 6 miles between Glen Garry and Dalwhinnie, 5 miles between Tay Crossing and Ballinluig, and 4 miles between Pitlochry and Killiecrankie.

None of these have completed “statutory procedures” ahead of construction, and the Pass of Birnam to Tay Crossing’s route is not expected to be finalised until later this year.

In addition to the Moy-Tomatin stretch, the only sections to have reached this “made orders” stage are Luncarty to Birnam and Kincraig to Dalraddy.

The Scottish Government said several stretches might be built as one contract.

Its spokesperson said: “Given the challenges the construction industry is facing, it is prudent to consult with them to ensure any delivery strategy can make best use of the resources available and can deliver longer-term benefits for the communities along the A9 corridor.

“Consequently, we are engaging with industry representatives to ensure the remainder of the programme is delivered effectively and efficiently, balancing the considerable benefits against financial risk, any impacts on local communities and journey times.

“Construction contracts may include more than one scheme.”

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