Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP, has expressed his disappointment that the Scottish Government has ruled out any study into the impact which frequent and lengthy trunk roads closures have on the economy of his Highlands & Islands region.
The Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown stated today, in a written Parliamentary answer to Jamie McGrigor, that “We have not conducted an economic impact assessment of the impact of trunk road closures on tourism and other business in the Highlands & Islands, nor do we have any such plans”.
Jamie had asked whether the Scottish Government would undertake a study, after contact from many constituents and businesses expressing concern about the economic impact of repeated and lengthy trunk road closures. Jamie’s previous questioning of the Scottish Government on trunk road closures revealed that the A82 had been closed to traffic 97 times, the A83 43 times, and the A85 46 times during the last three full calendar years.
Speaking today, Jamie, who earlier this week gave a cautious welcome to the news that Police Scotland would next year be rolling out new 3D-scanner equipment which it hopes will reduce the time required for road accident investigations, said:
“With respect to the Minister, I am disappointed with his reply, and I know many of my constituents, including tourism business owners, will also be frustrated that he does not seem to be able to acknowledge their genuine concerns.
“All of us accept that serious road traffic accidents will, on occasion, cause the closure of trunk roads. But many constituents have expressed to me their belief that the duration of these closures has increased substantially compared with 10 years ago, that this is detrimental to the economy, and that there must be a better way of dealing with this.
“The Minister talks about diversion routes, but the Highlands & Islands are not the same as the central belt where there are more road diversion options as there are more trunk roads. The very long diversions which my constituents, businesses, and tourist visitors can face do have a real negative impact on visitors to the area and local businesses”.
Jamie's written Question, and the written Parliamentary answer by the Transport Minister, read as follows:-
Q: (Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party)) "To ask the Scottish Government , further to the answer to question S4W-18076 by Keith Brown on 13 November 2013, whether it has conducted an economic impact assessment of the impact of trunk road closures on tourism and other business in the Highlands and Islands and, if not, whether it will do so".
A: (Mr Keith Brown MSP) "Trunk road closures for serious accidents are a matter for Police Scotland. The trunk road operating companies make every effort to minimise the resulting disruption by implementing diversion routes and Traffic Scotland provides up to date traffic and travel information on the closures across a wide range of media. We have not conducted an economic impact assessment of the impact of trunk road closures on tourism and other business in the Highlands and Islands, nor do we have any such plans".