4. To ask the First Minister, in light of the loss of life as a result of road traffic incidents on the A9 over the summer, on sections of the road that have not been dualled, what plans the Scottish Government has to publish a timetable setting out when the dualling of the A9, and A96, will be delivered. (S6F-01315)
First, I express my sympathies to everyone who has been affected by the loss of a loved one, and to anyone who has been injured on our roads over the summer. Road safety is of paramount importance to the Government and, indeed, to everyone. Our road safety framework is backed by £21 million in funding.
Work is continuing on the A9. The section between Tomatin and Moy is currently under procurement, and it is expected that the construction contract will be awarded later this year. Design work is progressing on the rest of the programme, with the statutory process well under way for seven of the remaining eight schemes.
The evidence-based review on fully dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen will report by the end of this year, and we will take forward enhancements on that corridor to improve connectivity between surrounding towns, tackle congestion and address safety and environmental issues.
I join the First Minister in sending our thoughts to the families of those who have, sadly, lost their lives. I emphasise that my constituents sincerely believe that more lives are lost on single-carriageway sections because, unlike dual carriageways, they have no central reservation to separate the opposing flows of traffic, and hence the risk of head-on collisions is not reduced.
Will the First Minister provide reassurance and confidence to my constituents and to the civil engineering sector by publishing revised and detailed timetables for delivering our long-standing pledges on dualling the A9 and the A96, starting from Inverness to Auldearn—including the Nairn bypass—which will help to save lives in the future?
I will not repeat all of my first answer about the processes that are under way to deliver exactly such clarity. I certainly share Fergus Ewing’s concerns about safety, which is of paramount importance to the Government.
As Fergus Ewing knows, procurement is a complex process that involves many rules that must be adhered to. I assure him that the work to determine the most suitable procurement option on the A9 is on-going and that an update will be provided when the work is completed.
On the A96 from Inverness to Nairn and the Nairn bypass, we need to complete the statutory approval process before setting a firm programme for delivery. However, we are continuing to progress the preparation stages, with a view to completing the process as quickly as possible.