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First Minister's Podcast comments reiterate stance on A9 and A96 dualling

By David Porter

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The First Minister has reiterated the Scottish Government's position over the dualling of the A9 and A96 during the most recent edition of the Holyrood Sources podcast.

The podcast, recorded at the Edinburgh Festival can be listened to here with the question on A96 dualling raised by an audience member from Inverness at 1:19:00 who said: "I've travelled here from Inverness today, a journey I have made probably 2000 times in my life and for the last five years I have had to pass the point on the road where I was the first on the scene of a head on collision and someone died in my arms as I was giving them first aid.

"When will the promise to the Highlands to dual the A9 and A96 be delivered?"

Humza Yousaf replies: ‘I’m sorry you had to go through that.

"I can’t pluck you a date, I can’t tell you a date when the A9 dualling will be complete, or the A96.

"I will say more about the A9 particularly in the programme for government, I hope to say more about the A9 in particular.

"And that commitment to dual the A9 and A96 continues to be our party policy at the moment.

"Particularly on the A9 there is just no argument about the fact that commitment is cast iron.

"On A96, Inverness-Nairn, Nairn bypass, again there is no disagreement or argument about that.

"For the other sections, yep, we are looking at climate compatibility because it is important, given the fact we are going to need to take some really difficult decisions right across every single portfolio, not just transport but buildings, agriculture and so many others when it comes to meeting our really ambitious climate change targets.

"But I can give you an absolute promise, and don’t take my word for it, judge us by our deeds for sure, when it comes to the dualling of the A9 that is going to be a significant priority for us, and for me and the administration that I lead, as well as making progress on the A96.

"Without giving an exclusive (to these guys), just watch this space."

In an exclusive interview with the Northern Scot in July, the First Minister, Mr Yousaf confirmed that the outcome of the A96 Corridor Review will be published after September 3 – more than eight months after the original deadline of December 2022 and that bypasses for Keith and Inverurie are "cast iron" commitments regardless of its outcome.

He also acknowledged that the A96 was: “one of the, if not the issue, concerning people here in the north east.”

Responding the comments, Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Liam Kerr said: “This will come as a kick in the teeth to motorists and businesses who have to contend with this death trap of a road on a daily basis despite the SNP promising in 2011 that the A96 would be dualled in full.

“Humza Yousaf must now explain why he has neglected the people of the north-east to appease his Green counterparts and play political games with the safety of drivers.”

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