A senior Tory said Scots just want “good roads” in the latest sign of tension between Westminster and Holyrood over funding major transport projects.
It follows concerns the UK government are undermining devolution by suggesting they’ll overrule Holyrood and invest directly in routes such as the A96.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, a former North East region MSP, said these clashes were never an issue when devolution started under Labour.
“It’s only since the SNP started to run Holyrood they would take that view,” he told journalists at a briefing in London.
What is delaying the A96 plan?
People have been told for years that the road between Aberdeen and Inverness will be fully dualled.
But the new SNP-Green agreement in the Scottish Government has put the scheme in doubt.
Greens secured an environment review of the plan. They are still committed to safety improvements but some MSPs, including Maggie Chapman from the Green party, have claimed it means the route might not be fully dualled.
People in Scotland care about having good roads. They don’t care who funded it.
– Ben Wallace MP
Mr Wallace said administrations have common interest in connections.
“Some major infrastructure programmes, like railway lines, that are about connecting the United Kingdom, inevitably mean the governments have to discuss things or things stop at borders and we don’t want that,” he said.
Asked about major road spending, he said: “When the Scottish Parliament used to take money from the European Union they didn’t think that was undermining devolution.
“It’s a bogus argument to say it’s undermining devolution.
“People in Scotland care about having good roads.
“They don’t care who funded it. They didn’t care when the European Union funded it, certainly in the Highlands, no one came to me and complained.”
Transport Scotland have said they are “committed to improving” the A96 and will hold a “transparent evidence-based review” which reports back in a year.