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Scottish Tories lambast SNP Government's A9 failures after £300 million spent in last decade on sections of the route where dualling work is yet to start

By Alasdair Fraser

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The A9 near Tomatin junction.
The A9 near Tomatin junction.

The Scottish Conservatives claim the Scottish Government's “abject failure” to dual the A9 is laid bare by “astonishing” new figures.

The figures show that £300 million has been spent over the last decade on sections of the route where the construction phase of the dualling project is yet to begin.

Responses to Scottish Conservative Freedom of Information requests reveal that £451m was spent on A9 improvements between 2012 and 2022 – less than one-sixth of Transport Scotland’s £3bn cost estimate to fully dual the road.

Almost two-thirds of this £451m was spent on stretches where the main construction work has yet to start.

But Transport Scotland hit back at the Tories' claims, stressing up-front preparation costs were "a normal aspect of delivering infrastructure projects of any scale".

A spokesman also described the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness as "one of the biggest and most complex transport infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history", requiring careful, in-depth planning.

Criticising the nationalists’ "failure to make good on their promises”, shadow transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the SNP-led administration first pledged to dual the road in 2007, and that it was supposed to be completed by 2025.

A9 dualling project sign.
A9 dualling project sign.

He added that the SNP’s “broken promises and sheer incompetence” had let down road users and businesses, contributing to the tally of fatal accidents on the notorious Perth-Inverness route.

Mr Simpson said: “The SNP have promised upgrades to the deadly A9 for years, yet over the past decade they’ve managed to spend £300m on sections where not a single shovel has gone into the ground yet.

“That’s a glaring testimony to their abject failure.

“The pledge to fully dual the road was made as far back as 2007, but the progress has been snail-paced.

“And people will find it astonishing that two-thirds of the money that has been spent has gone on parts of the road where construction hasn’t properly begun.

The A9. Picture: Sandrone
The A9. Picture: Sandrone

“The SNP’s broken promises and sheer incompetence have betrayed local communities and those who rely on the A9.

“Road users and businesses have been let down for years, and fatal accidents have persisted, thanks to the nationalists’ failure to make good on their promises.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “These up-front preparation costs are a normal aspect of delivering infrastructure projects of any scale.

"Delivery follows several consecutive stages: design and assessment of proposals, public and stakeholder consultation, statutory processes, procurement of works contracts and, finally, construction.

“Over £450m has been spent to date on the dualling of the A9 as part of normal preparations. This includes spend on preparatory work for all of the individual projects, as well as spend on land acquisition, construction of the two projects that have been completed to date, Kincraig to Dalraddy and Luncarty to Pass of Birnam, and advance works for future projects.

"The preparatory work includes technical and environmental surveys, preparation of outline designs for the projects, extensive public and landowner consultation, undertaking ground investigation work, and progressing projects through the necessary statutory processes.

"To date Ministerial decisions to complete the statutory processes have been confirmed for over 92 per cent of the length to be dualled.

“Dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness is one of the biggest and most complex transport infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history.

"It is a significant undertaking which requires careful, in-depth planning and design to ensure that we deliver the right projects which when complete will bring many benefits to local communities, businesses and road users living, travelling and working along the route.

“It is essential that we follow due process with the dualling programme which rightly include the opportunity for local communities to input and have any objections received resolved appropriately.

"The A9 Dualling Programme is particularly complex in that it features 11 separate projects following the promotion process which have then been considered in various combinations to determine the most efficient approach to procurement and construction to both protect the public purse and minimise disruption to road users.”

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