– in the Scottish Parliament on 24th November 2022.
3. To ask the Scottish Government when it expects the sections of the A9 trunk road from Perth to Inverness, on which made orders have been confirmed to create dual carriageways, to progress to procurement. (S6O-01591)
The A9 dualling programme comprises 11 projects. Of those, two projects are now open to use, one project is in procurement and seven of the remaining eight projects have had ministerial decisions confirmed to complete statutory processes. Only one project has not yet commenced statutory processes.
Work is on-going to determine the most suitable procurement options for the remaining sections, which involves consideration of issues such as how the works can be delivered most efficiently by the industry while minimising disruption to road users. I will update the Parliament on the outcomes of that work when it is complete.
I thank the minister for her response, and I welcome the progress that has already been made on the A9 dualling. However, as the minister is well aware, in the course of this year, there have already been no fewer than 12 fatalities on the single-carriageway sections of the A9 between Perth and Inverness. Those tragedies make the case far more eloquently than I could for why the dualling programme must be completed.
There is now a large number of sections in which the legal processes have been completed; therefore, the only delay to moving to procurement is a decision from the Government, and the communities along the route and the people who use the road want to know when the programme will proceed. Will the minister give us an update on when those vital works will commence and when they will be completed?
I thank Murdo Fraser for his question and for his time yesterday, when we met, along with a group of cross-party MSPs, following the debate that was held a couple of weeks ago on the short-term urgent measures that I intend to introduce to enhance road safety on the A9.
Murdo Fraser raises a number of questions. It is worth recognising that we have already invested approximately £431 million to date, including on the delivery of the dual stretches between Kincraig and Dalraddy and between Luncarty and Pass of Birnam, which opened in September 2017 and August 2021, respectively.
Murdo Fraser will understand that there is now urgent and important work on-going to look at the procurement options for the remaining sections of the A9, as I alluded to in my response to his first question. That is a complex exercise that considers a number of factors, including how the project can be delivered most efficiently by the industry. I will be happy to update him and the Parliament as soon as I have had that advice from Transport Scotland.
I thank the minister for her considerable attention to this matter. There are, indeed, four sections of the road that are now ready to go to procurement: the Tay crossing, Pitlochry, Dalnaspidal and Dalwhinnie. Together, those four sections amount to 35km in length. It would be a massive proof positive of the Scottish Government’s clear commitment to delivering our dualling pledge if those sections now went to procurement. I understand that there might be capacity issues in the industry. What stage of preparation is Transport Scotland now at in considering how to progress the four sections to dualling and whether to do the work on the sections concurrently instead of consecutively?
I thank Fergus Ewing for his question and note his considerable constituency interest in the matter.
I think that it would be helpful to summarise the sections of the route that remain outstanding. The Pass of Birnam to Tay crossing project has been the subject of a co-creative process. The project is progressing towards an announcement of the preferred route—that is expected in the coming months.
The made orders for the Tay crossing to Ballinluig project have been published. The project will complete the final stage of its statutory processes when the land has been vested. The Pitlochry to Killiecrankie section is at the same stage as that.
The Killiecrankie to Glen Garry project has received a ministerial decision confirming that orders should be made. The made orders for the Glen Garry to Dalwhinnie project have been published. The Dalwhinnie to Crubenmore section is at the same stage as that. The Crubenmore to Kincraig project has received a ministerial decision confirming that orders should be made, which is the same for the Dalraddy to Slochd project. It is only the Tomatin to Moy section that is in procurement at the present time.
I have not had advice on the potential to run the outstanding works concurrently. My initial observation on that suggestion might be about the disruption that it would invariably cause Fergus Ewing’s constituents and other people if we were to plan all those sections at the same time. However, I will ask my Transport Scotland officials for advice on that, and I will be happy to discuss that and other details with him should he wish to do so.