A9 Dualling Programme Strategic Environmental Assessment Non-Technical Summary

8. Population and Human Health

SEA Challenges/ Opportunities

A9 dualling represents a key opportunity in terms of improving road safety, reduction in accident severity and improving connectivity between Inverness, Perth, local communities and the central belt. Key challenges relate to access to/ from the route, particularly with respect to the Cairngorms National Park and other recreational facilities.

SEA Consideration of Accidents

Currently, the A9 between Perth and Inverness is 27% dualled (48km) and 73% single carriageway (129km) and the total number of accidents is spilt along roughly equal proportions to the respective route lengths (~75% on single carriageways).

SEA Consideration of accidents
# of Accidents (2001-2010) Accident Severity Total
Fatal Serious Slight
53 115 356 524
Dual Carriageway Sections 8 18 100 126
15 16% 28% 24%
Single Carriageway Sections 44 97 251 392
83% 84% 70% 75%
Slip Roads 1 0 5 6
2% 0% 1% 1%

The severity of accidents is significantly reduced on dual carriageway sections, with lower percentages of fatal and serious accidents and a higher percentage of slight accidents, when compared with the single carriageway statistics.

SEA considers that full dualling may not reduce the overall number of accidents; however, removing at-grade junctions and transitions between single and dualled carriageways are highly likely to reduce the severity of accidents.

SEA found this aspect of A9 dualling is likely to present major positive effects with significant long term benefits.

SEA Consideration of Access Issues

Non-Motorised Users (NMU)

Cycling/ Equestrians/ Walkers/ Recreation/ Crossings

The A9 provides access either directly, or in close proximity to, a wide range of recreational routes. Many lay-bys are used as informal parking bays for walkers and mountain bikers, and at-grade junctions currently provide crossing points.

Full dualling will present issues in terms of removing at grade junctions and rationalising connectivity between recreational routes and safe crossing points. Access for public transport, including intercity, local and school bus services will be considered through an emerging Non Motorised Users (NMU) Strategy, and will inform an emerging Lay By Strategy.

Cairngorms National Park/ other tourism sites

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) advise that A9 dualling should be seeking enhancement to maximise opportunities to stop in the Park, where possible. This also relates to other interest features/ tourism attractions including historic, ecological and geological sites.

Community and Private Access

The A9 currently has a range of junction types with A, B, C and unclassified roads, providing access for local communities, private properties and businesses. SEA considered that as full dualling will rationalise access provisions to deliver grade separated junctions, this would be a key issue for those who currently have direct accesses to the existing A9.

There will be short term effects in terms of journey times and local emissions associated with construction stage route diversions and long term permanent effects for users of those direct accesses that are closed.

However, SEA considers that long term regional level safety benefits are also expected in terms of rationalising junctions and accesses on a dualled A9.

Some link roads and paths will be rerouted to new junction locations and/ or safe crossing points, with the potential for minor localised adverse effects in terms of longer connecting routes, rather than a loss of access or connectivity, and NMU rationalisation should work to minimise the distance between crossings.

Emerging Lay By, NMU and Junction Strategies, coupled with considerations on public buses and DDA compliance, are assessed as likely to provide minor beneficial effects at the local level and, cumulatively, as moderate beneficial effects at the route wide scale. SEA recommends that where NMU routes require permanent diversions to safer crossings, these should be designed to provide the same, or improved, standard of pathway.