Public opinion on the A96 Corridor and Initial appraisal published

The Initial appraisal identifies the 16 retained options for further consideration from the list of over 11,000 generated by the public consultation. The 16 retained options cover Active Travel, Bus, Freight, Public Transport, Rail and Road proposals, and includes an option on full dualling between Inverness and Aberdeen.

These 16 options are now being taken forward through the next stages of the detailed appraisal process, with outcomes expected to be announced alongside a Climate Compatibility Assessment in the first half of 2023.

Respondents were asked about their travel habits, their use of different modes of transport, the benefits and disadvantages of using the A96 corridor, and their general thoughts on travel and transport across the corridor.

96% of respondents stated that car is their primary mode of travel on the A96 corridor, with 5% using public transport on a daily or weekly basis and 46% indicating that they do not use public transport within the A96 corridor.

The three top safety concerns raised by respondents were: dangerous overtaking, lack of overtaking opportunities and indicating the road is unsafe in general.

Transport Scotland A96 Programme Manager Sandy Jamieson said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to fully dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen and we have been undertaking a transparent evidence-based review of the corridor. The public consultation undertaken earlier this year received an unprecedented level of engagement with approximately 4,600 responses, generating more than 11,000 suggestions and potential opportunities for the route. 

“Given the sheer volume of responses received and the high level of options this generated, it has rightly taken Transport Scotland more time than originally anticipated to examine and appraise all of these options, but we are now able to report on the Public Consultation and the Initial Appraisal with today’s publication.

“It is vitally important to listen and understand the views and experiences of local people and those that travel along the corridor. These views have helped us understand how the A96 corridor is used given the climate emergency and the changes to everyone’s lives following the Covid-19 pandemic, and the extent to which these challenges will impact on how people travel on the A96 in the future along with the opportunities it offers.

“The Transport Minister will be organising a meeting early next year for north and north east MSPs to hear directly from the Review’s project team. This will include a summary of the Review’s findings to date, the consultation responses and the next steps in the Review process.

“We are now pushing forward with the next phase of further detailed work to inform the remaining stages of the Review. These include a robust appraisal of the retained options alongside a Climate Compatibility Assessment, with outcomes expected to be announced in the first half of 2023 for final public consultation, before a final decision can be reached.

“At the same time we are also continuing the preparation for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Nairn (including the Nairn Bypass) scheme, which is separate from the wider A96 Review process. This has already received Ministerial consent following a public local inquiry. Delivery of the scheme can only commence if approved under the relevant statutory procedures and thereafter a timetable for progress can be set in line with available budgets.”