Fears more than £37 million on dualling preparation works will be wasted if Scottish Government shelves upgrade

Tim Eagle MSP

FEARS have been raised that more than £37 million spent on preparation works for dualling two major stretches of the A96 would be “thrown down the drain” if the SNP-Green Government shelves the full upgrade following a review into the project.

Figures released by the Scottish Government through a freedom of information request show £37.4 million has been spent on preparing stretches between East of Huntly to Aberdeen and Hardmuir to Fochabers for dualling.

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But concerns have now been raised that this money could be wasted after a £5 million A96 corridor review was announced as part of the power-sharing deal between the SNP and the Greens to look again at the Scottish Government’s 2011 pledge to fully dual the A96.

Since 2018, £19.8 million has been spent on preparation works to dual between East of Huntly and Aberdeen while a further £17.6 million has gone on the Hardmuir to Fochabers stretch ahead of any upgrade.

An additional £12.5 million has been spent on initial work for dualling the Inverness to Nairn section, which the Scottish Government has committed to having announced last month that it had started the process for compulsory purchase orders.

But transport minister Fiona Hyslop refused a meeting request from Scottish Conservative North East MSP Douglas Lumsden to discuss why a review into the other stretches of the A96 has been delayed by more than a year, saying she has a “fully committed diary”.

Scottish Conservative North East MSP Douglas Lumsden said: “The sleekit handling of the A96 dualling from this SNP-Green Government continues to be a disgrace and a slap in the face to North East communities.

“It would be a public scandal if more than £37 million of taxpayers’ money was thrown down the drain simply to appease the SNP’s Green coalition partners to the detriment of residents.

“The public rightly want answers to ensure their money hasn’t gone to waste but the Scottish Government’s continued wall of silence and relentless push of their needless review of the project gives them no confidence of this happening. 

“Last month’s announcement that orders are being prepared for Inverness to Nairn will provide little comfort to people living in Aberdeenshire who have to contend with this death trap of a road on a daily basis.

“The fact the transport minister has refused a meeting with me over the issue speaks volumes for the shameful way the SNP have treated communities across the North East who have been pushed to the side in favour of the central belt.”

Buckie-based Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Tim Eagle added: “The Inverness to Nairn section is just one piece of the promised jigsaw and the Scottish Government must ensure the Hardmuir to Fochabers stretch and the Keith Bypass aren’t just forgotten about.

“The constant neglect of the A96 is risking the safety of motorists, hampering our emergency services and putting off potential investors in our economy across Moray.

“Taxpayers deserve value for money which is why it would be catastrophic if more than £17 million for preparation works was wasted to please the SNP’s Green counterparts.

“Northern Scotland desperately needs this upgrade if it is to have any chance of creating new jobs which are needed for our future generation.

“But without any honest answers, it’s clear this SNP-Green coalition want to kick the full A96 dualling into the long grass.”

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