Scottish Government would accept UK Government cash for dualling A9
The Scottish Government would welcome cash from the UK Government to help dual the A9 but would want that funding to come via the block grant, a spokesperson for the first minister has said.
The comments come after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the plan to extend HS2 to Manchester had been scrapped, with the money to be invested in a new ‘Network North’ package.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for the cash which will flow to Scotland as a result of this investment to be used to “urgently upgrade” the A9.
And leader Douglas Ross hinted at conference earlier this week that he would lobby the UK Government for direct investment in that road and the A96 if the Scottish Government did not move quickly enough.
Asked whether First Minister Humza Yousaf would welcome cash from the UK Government for this purpose, his spokesperson said: “In general terms, of course we always accept more funding for Scotland.
“But we’ve always been very clear that when it comes to funding projects for devolved issues, the money should come through the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government should decide how it’s funded.”
The A9 between Perth and Inverness was set to be fully dualled by 2025 but Scottish ministers have confirmed that will not happen.
The A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen was also meant to be dualled but work on that project has not started.
Former infrastructure minister Alex Neil this week told a parliamentary committee that the failure to dual both roads was “very damaging to the Scottish economy” and suggested the cost of doing so had likely gone up due to the delays.
The Scottish Government has said it is fully committed to dualling the A9 and making safety improvements to the A96.
The prime minister announced on Wednesday that the high-speed rail route between Birmingham and Manchester would no longer be built, but said the billions saved from that would be invested in rail links between norther cities, a “Midlands Rail Hub” and capping bus fares at £2 across England.
Labour said “almost all” of these schemes were not new investments.
It is not yet clear how much cash would come to Scotland via Barnett consequentials – the equation used to ensure devolved nations get a share of funding from investments in England.
The first minister’s spokesperson said the Scottish Government was “not aware of Barnett consequentials” as some of the transport projects “don’t even have timeframes”.