Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has been urged to listen to his own advisers and abandon plans to build a new dual-carriageway bypassing Inverurie.
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has made the plea in a letter to the Transport Secretary, which quotes road-building advice commissioned by the Scottish Government.
Plans to upgrade the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness include proposals to build a new dual carriageway around Inverurie.
Campaigners, including Mr Macdonald, believe that upgrading the existing road at Inverurie, which runs along the south side of the town, would be the cheaper and more environmentally friendly option.
Transport Scotland, however, has ruled out upgrading the existing road. Since then the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Commission has published its findings on how to decarbonise the transport system over the next 30 years.
A 137-page report has been produced by the commission, around a year after it was established by Mr Matheson under the chairmanship of former ScottishPower boss Ian Russell.
The report, published last month, said ministers should invest in existing roads rather than build new ones.
The document called for “a presumption in favour of investment to future proof existing road infrastructure and to make it safer, resilient and more reliable rather than increase road capacity”.
I have therefore written to Michael Matheson to urge him to pay heed to his own expert advisers”
Lewis Macdonald MSP
Mr Macdonald said: “The Infrastructure Commission was very clear. Responding to the climate emergency does not mean scrapping the roads budget, but it does mean that upgrading existing roads should take priority over building brand new ones.
“For the North East that means dualling the A96 should be done as far as possible on the line of the existing road, not by building a brand new road as Transport Scotland seems to want to do.”
The Labour MSP added: “I have therefore written to Michael Matheson to urge him to pay heed to his own expert advisers, and put the Online Inverurie option back on the table as the least costly and least environmentally disruptive way to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment to upgrade the route.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said its duty to provide quality infrastructure had to be balanced with the net-zero greenhouse gas targets.
The spokesman said: “When complete the A96 dualling programme will bring many benefits to local communities, businesses, visitors and road users living, travelling and working along the routes including reduced journey times, improved journey time reliability and, crucially, improve road safety for all users.”
Meanwhile, the Tories warned ministers not to bow to Green pressure to scrap the dualling of the A96 and A9.
Highland MSP Jamie Halcro Johnson described the projects as “vital” for the Highlands and islands.
The Green Party has repeatedly called for the projects to be abandoned and their demand will be part of negotiations as the SNP try to get parliamentary support for the Scottish Government’s Budget.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said the government was committed to both projects.