Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called on the Scottish Government to give a higher priority to the A801 Avon Gorge upgrade and the Grangemouth freight hub.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy called on the Minister to act swiftly on the projects, and bring forward the necessary support:
“Following the final acquisition of land for the A801 Avon gorge upgrade, when will support be forthcoming to enable the further progress of this project and other improvements related to the Grangemouth freight hub? Does the minister agree that early support for the A801 upgrade and the Grangemouth freight hub would not only make my constituency a safer place but would make a fundamental contribution to the local and Scottish economy and would meet the Government’s climate change commitments? Will he make the proposal the highest priority? People in Falkirk East simply cannot wait. I think that people in Scotland also cannot wait.”
The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, replied that “Under the terms of the concordat with local government, Falkirk Council and West Lothian Council are free to bring forward proposals for the upgrade of the A801, should they wish.”
Noting that the Government’s priorities were the Forth replacement crossing, and the Edinburgh to Glasgow, Highland main line and Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements, he acknowledged that the A801 project “is an important one, coupled with support for Grangemouth. That is, of course, why the projects that I set out made it into the STPR and national planning framework. We will act at as early a stage as finance permits.”
Cathy said that “it is a matter of priorities, and how money can best be spent. The A801 and other local improvements only need a fraction of the money that the Government is ploughing into other schemes, but an early investment in the A801 and Grangemouth would deliver major benefits for the local and Scottish economy and the environment, and I reckon that the benefits to Scotland would justify Government investment far more quickly than some of the other infrastructure projects. Delay is a false economy and also undermines Scottish action on climate change.”
In response to a supplementary question from another MSP on the Grangemouth Rail Station, the Minister said that he did not “expect any early decisions on the matter.”
Cathy said that “The best bet for delivering a Grangemouth Rail Station is in tandem with upgrading of the line for freight. Freight and passengers are not in competition here. I am pleased to say that local stakeholders are working together through the Grangemouth Transport Forum to secure improvements that will benefit everyone.”