Grant agrees A9 excuses are “pathetic”

Highland and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, says the former First Minister, Alex Salmond, is correct in labelling the excuses given by the Scottish Government for the delay in dualling the A9 between Inverness and Perth as “pathetic”.

Commenting on the former First Minister’s appearance in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Citizens Participation and Public Petitions Committee this morning (08.05.2024) Rhoda Grant said “The people of the Highlands and Islands have been badly let down by this SNP Government.

“I don’t readily agree with much that Alex Salmond says but on this I do agree. Using the war in Ukraine, Brexit, and inflation as excuses is not only pathetic but it is utterly shameful.

“Had the work been carried out with the 2025 goal as a clear target contacts would have already been issued, land would have been purchased and designs would have been signed off long before any of these issues had an impact.”

As First Minister, Mr Salmond publicly committed to dualling the road when the Scottish Cabinet met in Inverness in August 2008 and claims he was never advised there were problems with the cost or the 2025 timescale before he left office in 2014.

Having spoken about the number of fatalities on the road, approaching 350 over the last 40 years or so, the former First Minister said he endorsed the evidence previously given by Alex Neil who was the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, who was appointed to drive the project forward.

He also stated that the £3bn estimated for the dualling of the A9 amounted to only half of the capital budget for one year and as the project was scheduled to be completed over 14 years there was “No question it was affordable at that stage.”

A freedom of Information request gleaned that the Scottish Cabinet knew from 2018 that the deadline of 2025 was unachievable but failed to announce this until 2023 after being pressed for a meeting by Mrs Grant.