Grant says A9 delays should have been made public in 2018

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, says the Scottish Government should have been more open with the people of the Highlands and Islands in 2018. They should have advised that the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness was unlikely to be complete by 2025.

The former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee this morning (29.05.2024) acknowledged that her Government should have been more open with the public in 2018 when private Government paperwork suggested there could be a problem.

She apologised for not dualling the A9 and acknowledged the people of the Highlands have a right to be aggrieved, not just about the target not being met but also due to the serious safety concerns.

She trotted out the usual defences of Brexit and Covid (forgetting to mention the war in Ukraine) as reasons for the project slipping by at least a decade.

Rhoda Grant said “Nicola Sturgeon and successive Transport Ministers should have been more open and transparent with the public but they carried on for a further 4 or 5 years misleading people to believe that the A9 would be complete by 2025, even when it was very obvious that this timetable would not be met.

“With industry raising their concerns in 2018 over the 2025 deadline, they should have taken action. Had they effectively addressed it then, we would be much further forward in dualling the A9 than we are today.”

Ms Sturgeon advised that under the Scottish Public Centre Finance manual consideration of private finance options in projects of this nature is required. She advised that in 2014 the NPD (Non-Profit Distributing) model of funding was effectively not available to them as it was reclassified as public, not private, and confirmed that the Government was at that time having to consider a different potential private finance route should that have been something that the Government decided to do. She said there was no obvious alternative during that period and it’s taken until very recently to settle on the current MIM that the present Cabinet Secretary has since announced.