SNP activists sent a clear message to the party leadership to get on with dualling the A9 and A96 after an overwhelming majority backed the move at their conference in Aberdeen.
The commitment is already party policy but both promises have been dogged by delays and uncertainty.
Members from Peterhead, Huntly, Elgin, Inverness and Perthshire used the third and final day of SNP conference at the P&J Live venue to make the point that people are fed up waiting.
Elgin City North councillor Jérémie Fernandes, addressing the crowd, held up the SNP’s 1990 Grampian region manifesto which called for full dualling of both roads.
He said it is the “number one issue” activists hear about when knocking on doors in the north-east and Highlands.
Huntly councillor Gwyneth Petrie said the impact of not dualling the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness would be “hugely damaging” to the economic future of the north-east.
The promise to dual the road was made over a decade ago and currently has a timescale of 2030.
But there are fears over the scheme’s future which is currently subject to an “evidence-based” climate review.
This was ordered after the Greens entered a power-sharing deal with the SNP in summer 2021.
Ms Petrie told conference the development of Huntly has been “continuously hampered” by the delay on A96 dualling.
She added there has been “minimal house building” because of roads uncertainty.
And she added the time it takes to get from the community to Aberdeen or Elgin, is a “deterrent” for families moving to the area, with some already moving away.
Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick, said the Scottish Government is “still committed to these projects”.
She told party members she is in favour of taking action on climate change, but that people such as her younger sister, who is a carer, need a car to do their job.
“We have to show we are able to recognise the different situations that people living in rural areas face travelling around”, the government minister added.
The dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness was due to be completed by 2025 but it is delayed. An update is expected later this autumn.
‘I want that pledge to be met’
Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said the government must provide a timetable for all the sections of the A9 route to be upgraded.
He added: “I want that road to be made safe. I want that pledge that we gave our constituents to be met.”
But speaking against the plans, SNP member Rhodri Griffiths, said he didn’t believe dualling the roads should be party policy.
Instead, he called for rail improvements, and reopening former rail lines, citing examples such as Aberdeen to Peterhead.
The SNP activist went on to blame drivers for road accidents, rather than the fact the routes are not dualled all the way.
“It may have been party policy for a long time but that in itself is proof we should be questioning it”, he added.
However, members voted overwhelmingly in favour of dualling both schemes, with clear support in the conference hall and only a handful of votes against.
Speaking after the result, SNP Peterhead convener, David Birkett, who supports both projects, said: “It’s a long commitment. We’ve let our opposition take possession of the ball. We need to take it back.
“Majority opinion is behind it and let’s get it done.”
LISTEN: All the latest from SNP conference in our special edition of politics podcast The Stooshie.
You can read our full coverage of the conference in Aberdeen on our politics pages here.