Conservative MP Douglas Ross and SNP MSP Richard Lochhead clash over A96 dualling
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MORAY'S Conservative MP and SNP MSP have clashed over the dualling of the A96.
MP Douglas Ross challenged MSP Richard Lochhead "fully commit" to the upgrade of the road, saying that the SNP's deal with the Greens threatens the project.
Richard Lochhead, though, said he has "long supported" the road's dualling, with the project originally brought forward by an SNP government.
The exchanged words come after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon highlighted Green plans to carry out an environmental impact assessment ahead of any planned improvements.
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “The SNP are already bowing to the influence of the hardline Greens, who wish to put an end to major road projects such as the dualling of the A96.
“A failure to make these much-needed improvements on this critical route would have hugely damaging consequences for the economy in Moray.
“Richard Lochhead has a prime opportunity here. He should put his constituents above his party and demand his SNP colleagues fully commit to dualling the A96.
“Motorists in this region were promised by Nicola Sturgeon that the desire of her nationalist allies in the Greens wouldn’t see any watering down of commitments to improve the A96.
“She is already backtracking on that promise. Richard Lochhead must urgently make it clear to Moray motorists and businesses if he will be putting the area’s needs before the interests of the coalition of chaos his party is now part of with the Greens.”
Richard Lochhead pointed out previous Moray projects completed by the SNP government, adding that he has been a long-time supporter of dualling the A96.
He said: “The agreement highlights that the SNP and Green have different positions on the dualling of the A96 – a project that I have long supported for its economic and safety benefits, along with the dualling of the A9, since being elected local MSP.
"It is worth noting it took the election of an SNP Government to put these transformational projects on the agenda after decades of Tory and Labour Governments.
“The SNP has also delivered the Fochabers by-pass and the five year co-operation agreement is committed to pressing ahead with Elgin and Keith by-passes which are massive projects.
“I note that Mr Ross has failed to welcome proposals to develop the A96 into an electric highway and to support investment in sustainable transport. Nor has he welcomed the commitment to deliver £500 million to secure low carbon jobs in Moray and the north east.
“The co-operation agreement that the SNP and Greens have signed up to is refreshing and I believe the public prefer politicians working together, which is only possible where people and parties don’t simply sit on the sidelines opposing for opposition's sake.”