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A9 and A96 dualling: 'Priority' promise from new SNP leader Humza Yousaf

By Gregor White

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Humza Yousaf suggested action on both A9 and A96 dualling.
Humza Yousaf suggested action on both A9 and A96 dualling.

Highland road users will be keen to see action quickly on delayed roads projects.

As Humza Yousaf was confirmed this afternoon as the new leader of the SNP, road users will be keen to hold him to his words on roads.

At the Inverness Courier Leadership Debate earlier this month host Nicky Marr asked for a show of hands from the audience of around 200 in terms of who felt let down or angry at the broken promises on A9 dualling.

Around 80 per cent indicated that they did.

Humza Yousaf, who was transport minister from 2016-2018, admitted the failure to make more progress was "a failure" and said: "If I am First Minister the first thing I will do is sit down with my finance secretary who I will appoint and say this is the priority and the budget has to reflect this."

Ms Marr pushed the point that much of the delay was reportedly down to contractors being unwilling to bid for work where they were made to shoulder all the financial risk.

In response Mr Yousaf said that both the government and the Scottish National Investment Bank – the state-owned national investment body – had to be more open to taking risk, while balancing that with acting responsibly in terms of the public purse.

None of the three candidates at the same event were able to give a firm commitment to dual the entire length of the A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen though Mr Yousaf did pledge to make the Inverness to Nairn dualling project, including a bypass for Nairn – one of the worst bottlenecks on the A96 at peak times – a priority.

He said: "I would waste no time in getting Inverness to Nairn, including the Nairn bypass, up and running.

"This is not just about connectivity, it is about lives and safety, the A9 and A96.

"The rest of the (A96) dualling is going to be more challenging (by 2030), there is no getting away from that.

"People have been waiting far too long for the Inverness to Nairn, including the bypass."

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