In December 2011, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment launched the Government's Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) which includes a commitment to complete A9 dualling, between Perth and Inverness, by 2025.
Dualling the A9 represents one of the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland's history; it is the longest trunk road in Scotland with the Perth to Inverness section forming 177 kilometres (~110 miles) of the total. The combined total for existing dual carriageway sections between Perth and Inverness is approximately 48 kilometres (~30 miles), and the sections to be dualled total around 129 kilometres (~80 miles).
The A9 passes through areas which are outstanding in wildlife and landscape terms, in particular, the Cairngorms National Park and a number of national and internationally protected sites. A9 dualling-related effects in such areas must be carefully considered through early design phases, and sensitively managed through construction phases.
In Scotland, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is legislated through the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, which requires SEA for all public sector plans, programmes and strategies with the potential to present significant effects on the environment.
As the A9 dualling programme will manage the process of route alignment selection, design, local level environmental impact assessment and the progress of construction activities along the route between Perth and Inverness, SEA Screening determined that the programme has the potential to present significant environmental effects on the environment, and that SEA is therefore required.
This document provides a non-technical summary of the SEA process to date, to accompany the more detailed SEA Environmental Report.