Views sought from Aberdeenshire motorists on A96 future
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Aberdeenshire motorists have been urged to give their views on the future for the A96 road.
The Scottish Government has outlined its current plans are to fully dual the route between Aberdeen and Inverness.
Transport Scotland is seeking a better understanding of how the road is used, particularly given the changes to everyone’s lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the extent to which the climate emergency makes a difference to how people travel on the A96 in the future.
Plans to dual the route were first mooted nearly 10 years ago back in 2013.
This initial consultation is in the form of a digital survey supported by an online story map.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “We remain committed to delivering improvements along the A96 corridor.
“The current plan is to fully dual the route between Inverness and Aberdeen. However, we have agreed to conduct a transparent, evidence-based review of the A96 dualling programme including a climate compatibility assessment. That is sensible good governance for major investment of that level.
“This public consultation, which has started, is an essential part of our review of the A96.
“The views of residents, stakeholders and businesses will help us to consider the impact of the climate emergency, Covid-19 and other changes to travel patterns when planning improvements to journeys along the route.
“We want to hear from communities and stakeholders throughout the A96 corridor so that we can take this into account alongside other technical reports when identifying options for improvements on the route. I’d like to encourage people with an interest to take part.”
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has urged constituents to contribute to the new feedback survey on the A96 launched on the Transport Scotland website. The plans involve upgrading 86 miles of single carriageway.
Ms Martin said: “It’s vital that local people make their views known to ensure that those people most directly affected by the future of the A96 have their voices heard.
“Personally I think there are serious long-standing safety concerns along the route, and that’s the main reason I have been supportive of the dualling for many years.
“The voices of those who use the road day on day need to be heard, and I am confident that it is the public’s views that will make all the difference as plans for the A96 are developed.”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has accused the Scottish Government of going back on its commitment to dual the A96 as it promised.
Mr Ross said that the SNP has backtracked on previous commitments due to bringing the Scottish Greens into government and any watering down of dualling the A96 would be extremely damaging for motorists and the wider local economy.
He said Ministers are once again demonstrating their lack of understanding of the needs of rural and remote communities, where a car is a necessity and are putting the interests of their party above communities.
He added: “This review is confirmation that the SNP are seriously prepared to backtrack on previous commitments to dual the A96, which is so badly needed for communities.
“They are putting the interests of their Green coalition partners above the needs of our rural and remote communities.
“The A96 is already in urgent need of upgrading, and needs to be dualled, but now the SNP are using this review to kick these improvements into the long grass.
“I would urge everyone to make their voices heard as loudly as possible in this consultation. The SNP made the commitment to dual the A96, but have now put their coalition agreement with the Greens ahead of this promise.
“I will continue to push at every turn for the A96 to be fully dualled as promised to bring major social and economic benefits for the communities."
The consultation can be found on the Transport Scotland website at A96 Corridor Review and is open until June 10.