The intention to fully dual the A96 was announced in December 2011, when the Scottish Government published its Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) which contained the commitment to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030, thus completing the dual carriageway network between all Scottish cities.
On 9 May 2013 the then Minister for Transport and Veterans set out how the A96 Dualling Programme would be taken forward over the following few years. This announcement identified packages of preliminary design and development work, with the objective of completing the full dualling between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030.
Since then we have progressed the preliminary engineering and environmental studies, expanding our knowledge of the various challenges associated with providing a dual carriageway between Inverness and Aberdeen and developing key strategies to achieve this goal. The outcome of these studies was published on 11 May 2015. At the same time a timetable was published for the next stage of design development for between east of Nairn and Aberdeen east of Nairn to Aberdeen and this stage is being taken forward as three separate schemes.
In addition we have also completed the development and assessment of the preferred option on the section between Inverness and Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) and published Draft Orders for the scheme on 29 November 2016. A Public Local Inquiry has been held in relation to representations received to the draft Orders.
We are committed to encouraging interest and public involvement in the development of the proposals to dual the A96. As work on the project progresses the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland will ensure that arrangements for participation are inclusive, open and transparent and that a wide range of participants are encouraged to get involved.
- The Scottish Government, through the Infrastructure Investment Plan, has put in place a commitment to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030
- The length of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen is approximately 160 km (99 miles)
- The combined total of the existing dual carriageway sections between Inverness and Aberdeen is approximately 22 km (13 miles)
- The sections to be dualled total around 138 km (86 miles). This is 17 times the length of the M74 Completion, seven times the length of the M80 Stepps to Haggs project and over three times the length of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR)
We are working collaboratively with key agencies, authorities and local communities to address the challenges such as:
- managing the impact on the many environmentally sensitive areas
- proximity of communities along the existing route
- improving accessibility for local communities
- improved access to tourist and recreation
- minimising impact of construction
- Aberdeen to Inverness Railway
- a consistent road standard which includes a review of the existing dual carriageway sections
A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen Strategic Business Case
The Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), published in 2008, set out a number of transport priorities for the Inverness to Aberdeen corridor to be met by 2032. These transport priorities included rail enhancements; strategic park and rides; upgrading the A96 to dual carriageway between Inverness and Nairn; a bypass of Nairn; a new bridge at Inveramsay; and a targeted programme of measures to reduce accident severity.
Since 2008, there has been a renewed focus on developing and promoting economic growth through Scotland’s cities and their regions which is reflected in current thinking for planned development along the corridor through Local Development Plans which have ambitious growth aspirations. Furthermore, the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan has identified Aberdeen, Peterhead, Ardersier and Nigg as key locations to enable Scotland to reap the economic benefits resulting from the offshore renewable energy potential. Connectivity to the central belt of Scotland, the rest of the UK markets, and access to labour force is critical to the success of the region.
It is in this context that the Strategic Business Case for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen programme has been developed. This builds upon the evidence base of the STPR and seeks opportunities to address the growing economic and transport demands along the corridor.
The appraisal has been undertaken in accordance with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG), which is an objective-led, evidenced based approach, based on the identification of problems and opportunities. The Strategic Business Case (SBC) summarises the outcome of the appraisal undertaken and covers the following:
- policy context
- identification of the key problems, issues, and opportunities on the corridor
- development of transport planning objectives for the study
- options to be taken forward to the appraisal process
- results of the appraisal process and
View the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen Strategic Business Case.
The planning process
The proposals will be developed following the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) which ensures a robust and fit for purpose design.
Statutory (planning) permissions must also be gained through the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.
Transport Scotland carries out a rigorous assessment process to establish the preferred line for a trunk road improvement. The DMRB three stage assessment process covers traffic and economics, engineering and environment.
Transport Scotland has undertaken preliminary engineering and strategic environmental assessment work along the length of the A96 (DMRB Stage 1 Assessment).
Following conclusion of the DMRB Stage 1 the scheme has been divided into three sections, in addition to the Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) section, for further assessment at Stage 2 and 3. The three sections are on the basis of a Western Section (Hardmuir to Fochabers), Central Section (east of Fochabers to east of Huntly) and Eastern Section (east of Huntly to Aberdeen).
Design and Assessment
Stage 1 (Strategic Assessment)
- Strategic planning and development of improved transport links between Inverness and Aberdeen
- Identify the economic, engineering, traffic and environmental advantages and disadvantages and constraints associated with broadly defined improvement strategies
- A Strategic Environmental Assessment published for comment
- Topographical and environmental surveys
- Traffic and business surveys
Stage 2 (Route Options Assessment)
- Development and assessment of route options for upgrading the A96 from single to dual carriageway. This includes an engineering, traffic, economics and environmental assessment of the potential impacts of each option to inform the route choice
- At the end of this stage the options will be made available for consultation
- Following this assessment and consultation, the preferred option is then selected and taken forward to the detailed stage
Stage 3 (Detailed Design and Assessment)
- Detailed assessment and definition of the preferred dualling option
- An Environmental Statement is prepared and the land required for the dualling is also identified
Statutory Process (Publication of Environmental Statement and Orders)
- The draft Compulsory Purchase Order (defining the extent of the proposed land required to deliver the scheme), the draft Roads Orders (defining the line of the proposed infrastructure) and the Environmental Statement (ES) are published
- Any statutory objections, which are lodged during the defined period but remain unresolved, are then considered at a Public Local Inquiry (PLI)
- If the objections are upheld following the PLI, the scheme may have to be amended and taken through the statutory process again. If the objections are resolved or dismissed, then the draft orders are finalised and made
- After this point the legal permissions have been obtained and the preferred option can proceed with the necessary acquisition of land
Following the completion of the planning stages, the process to procure a works contractor for the construction of dual carriageway commences.
Suppliers are invited to express an interest in the procurement and then a prequalification process is used to shortlist suppliers that will be invited to Tender. Through the Tender process, a supplier is selected and the contract is awarded.
The preferred dualling option can then move to the construction phase.