A spat has erupted between Moray’s MP and MSP about the potential dualling of the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road in the region.
The ambitious project has been thrown into doubt following the cooperation agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens.
It had been expected that the entire route would be upgraded.
However, the power sharing deal commits to only dualling the road from Inverness to Nairn with bypasses for Elgin, Keith and Inverurie – while acknowledging the parties have different opinions about dualling.
The rest of the upgrade is now dependent on an “evidence-based review” that will assess the impact on the climate and environment.
What is the row about?
Moray MP Douglas Ross has challenged Moray MSP Richard Lochhead to press the need for an upgraded A96 to his SNP colleagues.
The Scottish Conservatives leader says the improvements are “much-needed” and could have huge economic benefits for the north-east.
Mr Lochhead says he has “long supported” A96 upgrades, highlighting the SNP investment to create the Fochabers bypass – challenging Mr Ross to welcome proposals to develop the Aberdeen to Inverness route into an “electric highway”.
It is now uncertain whether the full upgrade to the A96 will continue until the climate and environment review is completed, which is expected by the end of 2022.
What are they saying?
Mr Ross says the upgrade of the A96 is an issue where local matters should be put ahead of party considerations.
He said: “Richard Lochhead has a prime opportunity here. He should put his constituents above his party and demand his SNP colleagues fully commit to dualling the A96.
“Motorists in this region were promised by Nicola Sturgeon that the desire of her nationalist allies in the Greens wouldn’t see any watering down of commitments to improve the A96.
“She is already backtracking on that promise. Richard Lochhead must urgently make it clear to Moray motorists and businesses if he will be putting the area’s needs before the interests of the coalition of chaos.”
Mr Lochhead said: “I note that Mr Ross has failed to welcome proposals to develop the A96 into an electric highway and to support investment in sustainable transport.
“Nor has he welcomed the commitment to deliver £500m to secure low carbon jobs in Moray and the north-east.
“The co-operation agreement that the SNP and Greens have signed up to is refreshing and I believe the public prefer politicians working together, which is only possible where people and parties don’t simply sit on the side lines opposing for oppositions sake.”