Fergus Ewing has called on the Scottish Government to make a public statement explaining why a commitment to dual the A96 between Inverness and Nairn has been hit by delays.
Former transport minister Jenny Gilruth told the Scottish Parliament on November 2 last year that the government expected to progress to made orders “in the coming weeks”.
Nearly 11 months later, it appears that this has still not happened.
Mr Ewing said at First Minister’s Questions today: “The then transport secretary assured this chamber that the necessary statutory orders would be made in a matter of weeks.
“My constituents are still waiting.
“Will the first minister ask the transport secretary to bring an oral statement to parliament to explain why there has been a delay?
“The good people of Nairn – and indeed the whole of the north – are surely entitled to know what is – or is not – going on.”
‘The people of Inverness and Nairn are due an update’
First Minister Humza Yousaf agreed that the public needed an update.
But he stopped short of promising a ministerial statement on the issue.
Mr Yousaf said: “The people of Inverness and Nairn are obviously due an update.
“I’m more than happy to consider a ministerial statement. But perhaps, if it’s more appropriate, a written update to the member and other members with an interest in the A96.
“And, of course, our commitment remains.
“But Fergus Ewing is absolutely right. We are duty bound to give updates to members of the public on our infrastructure projects.”
The bulk of the A96 dualling project remains up in the air after a review of it was ordered.
This followed the SNP entering a power-sharing agreement with the Greens in 2021.
However, the section between Inverness and Nairn – including the town’s long-awaited bypass – is not affected by the review.
Is the work running behind schedule?
Transport Scotland reiterated Ms Gilruth’s comments in late November last year.
A spokesman said: “We continue to progress the statutory process stages for the Inverness to Nairn section.
“As confirmed by the minister for transport in parliament on November 2, we expect to be able to make the orders in the coming weeks.”
In July, a spokeswoman confirmed this had not yet been completed.
It was said the “complex” process was ongoing, but required “intensive work”.
The SNP promised over a decade ago to fully dual the A96 by 2030.