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Transport Scotland to go ahead with construction of dualled A96 north of Forres with timetable to be announced

By Garry McCartney

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An aerial view of proposed A96 dual carriageway at Forres looking north-east.
An aerial view of proposed A96 dual carriageway at Forres looking north-east.

TRANSPORT Scotland is pushing ahead with plans to dual the A96 past Forres.

Following public consultation, in 2018 the Scottish Government agency announced the Hardmuir to Fochabers section veering north of Forres of what will be a dualled road from Inverness to Aberdeen.

A Transport Scotland spokesman confirmed the programme will bring benefits including reduced journey times, journey time reliability, road safety and opportunities for active travel.

He said: “We remain committed to our plans to dual the A96. We are continuing to advance detailed development and assessment of the preferred option for the Hardmuir to Fochabers scheme, with a view to publishing draft orders and an environmental impact assessment report once the current stage of the design process has concluded. Design and assessment work is ongoing and we expect to update members of the public, road users and other stakeholders on the scheme in the coming months.”

He added: “Delivery can only commence when it is approved under the relevant statutory procedures, and thereafter a timetable for construction can be set.”

Despite the expectation from a number in the community that the route would go south of the town and connect with housing developments expanding from Grantown Road, the preferred route to bypass Forres is north alongside Findhorn Bay.

Forres Community Council (FCC) associate members Alan James and Mike Miller have concerns around the environmental impact during construction, the visual aspect on completion, the cost to the taxpayer, connectivity to existing infrastructure and the effect that the north route will have on traffic flow within the town, particularly around St Catherine’s Road.

However, Transport Scotland also believes the north option has less adverse landscape and visual effects, offers less requirement for alterations to watercourses, and avoids potentially contaminated land at the former RAF base in Forres.

FCC member John Byrne pointed out that Mr Miller and Mr James were best placed to comment on behalf of the watchdog as they had been liaising with the executive body.

However, Mr James said: “We would rather not comment at the moment.”

FCC member, Lesley Edwards, added: “The opinion of FCC was that the land was waterlogged and unstable to the north of Forres, therefore the route should go to the south.”

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