The Scottish Government remains committed to improving infrastructure in the north-east, as is evidenced by the recent opening of improvements at Haudagain on 16 May. We remain committed to making improvements to the A96 with a transparent, evidence-based review of the corridor that is under way, which will report by the end of 2022. Additionally, we continue to progress proposed improvements at Laurencekirk junction through the statutory process.
For the longer term, the second strategic transport projects review sets out recommendations for strategic roads, which focus on safety, climate change adaptation and resilience.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government released its national transport strategy and, as my colleague Liam Kerr identified, the document failed to mention the notorious Toll of Birness junction. Upgrading that junction and the wider A90 will not only make a huge difference to the lives of those people who live and work in the north-east, and serve as a catalyst for economic growth, but come with the potential of dramatically reducing the number of horrific accidents and saving lives.
Traffic assessments that were done nearly five years ago show that the junction will be almost unusable in the future. With that in mind, will the minister commit to upgrading the junction and bring much needed safety to commuters in Aberdeenshire?
Of course, consideration of safety improvements on the A90 at the Toll of Birness and Cortes junctions can now be undertaken as part of the wider STPR2 road safety recommendation, which is recommendation 30. That recommendation focuses on
“trunk road and motorway safety improvements” to progress towards vision zero. Where junction upgrades are needed to support that development in line with Scottish planning policy, developers need to mitigate their impact, which might include upgrading junctions where a safety issue arises as a result of that development.
I recognise the member’s interest in relation to that issue particularly, and I am more than happy to write to him with more detail in relation to the time that has elapsed since that issue was first raised, and more broadly in relation to the recommendations that sit within STPR2.
Cars will continue to have a role to play in the travel arrangements of people in our rural communities for some time. Given that we know the role that cars play in our transport-related emissions, and given that the world is on course to exceed the 1.5°C of global warming threshold, does the minister agree that decisions that regard the building of our future roads and infrastructure projects throughout Scotland must be considered in terms of their potential environmental impact?
We are committed to zero emissions from transport and to decarbonising all modes of travel, including by road and in the north-east of Scotland. Our commitment to achieving net zero in transport is clearly set out in the vision and the outcomes of our national transport strategy.