Highland Councillors have passed a motion calling for the Scottish Government to agree a timeline for dualling the A96 Inverness to Nairn.
Councillor Trish Robertson had set out a motion reminding council of the Scottish Government’s original 2030 completion date.
Ms Robertson said the Inverness to Nairn section has ministerial approval, and Nairn is in desperate need of a bypass.
Nairn councillor Laurie Fraser seconded the motion, with newly-elected member Babs Jarvie also a signatory.
This gave it cross-party support from the Liberal Democrats, Highland Independent group and Conservatives.
“The A96 dualling programme will improve journey time and reliability, deliver economic growth, improved connectivity and reduce the rate and severity of accidents,” said Ms Robertson.
“The upgrade is essential to residents in Highland. Anyone who drives through Nairn can testify to the delays encountered. There’s an urgent requirement for the bypass.”
SNP get on board – but Greens want a dual rail line
Instead of opposing the motion, the SNP group took it a step further.
New SNP member Paul Oldham said he was disappointed that Nairn colleagues hadn’t included him in the motion – because he wanted to firm up the wording.
“What we need is action from the Scottish Government,” said councillor Oldham. “I say that as a member of the SNP.”
Mr Oldham proposed an amendment which asked for specific dates for the project.
Ms Robertson accepted the SNP amendment, but then faced opposition from the Greens.
Councillor Kate Willis said dualling the A96 would only increase carbon emissions. Instead, she called on the Scottish Government to dual the Aberdeen to Inverness rail line.
The Nairn councillors welcomed the Greens’ proposal to invest in sustainable transport. However, Ms Robertson said it should not be “either or”. She does not want to see the dual carriageway and bypass abandoned for the train plan.
The various proposals and counter-proposals caused some confusion and laughter in the chamber. Once the logistics were settled, members voted decisively for the dual carriageway.
Highland Council will now write to Scottish ministers asking for the A96 Inverness to Nairn improvements to get going without delay.
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