A82 (Tarbet to Inverarnan)

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 27th March 2003.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party 2:30 pm, 27th March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive whether the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan is an urgent priority for improvement and should be included in the next round of trunk road improvements in 2003-04. (S1O-6705)

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

We recognise the traffic pressures on that length of road and have announced that a route action plan should be put in place as part of the £20 million investment in the rural trunk road network that we announced last week.

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

That answer shows that fudge remains the Executive's favourite confection. Is the minister aware that temporary traffic lights have been in place on the A82 for more than a decade? Is that acceptable? Does he consider that a period in excess of a decade can properly be described as "temporary"? Does he agree that people and businesses in the west Highlands require a proper, normal trunk road if they are to realise their potential?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

The people of the west Highlands require a proper and objective assessment of the correct way of dealing with precisely the kind of issues that Fergus Ewing has raised, which is why we will draw up a route action plan for the road in question. That is the right way of proceeding.

Mr Ewing will know that, in light of the last round of route action plans, a number of announcements were made last week that affect roads in his constituency, such as the A96 at Delnies and the A9 at Crubenmore and between Kincraig and Dalraddy. I conclude by pointing out that, if his party's spending commitment to invest £500 million in dualling the entire length of the A9 were ever carried out, the consequences for deserving and important roads such as the A82 would be too serious to contemplate.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I welcome the minister's announcement of a new route action plan for the A82 north of Tarbet. Indeed, I have been urging the Executive on behalf of constituents to undertake such work for some time now. Will the minister indicate the time scale for the study and when he expects work on its recommendations to begin? Moreover, when he returns on 2 May, will he consider additional improvements to the A82 from Dumbarton to Tarbet as a key route to Scotland's first national park at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

It is intended that work on the route action plan will start within the next few weeks and be concluded towards the end of next year, in good time for people to make submissions to the strategic roads spending review process that will begin in 2004-05. I very much look forward to discussing with Jackie Baillie proposals for improvements to the A82 in her constituency after 1 May.