DETAIL NEEDED ON UNION CONNECTIVITY REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS

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South Scotland SNP MSP, Emma Harper, has written to the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Scotland with five key questions on the recommendations which were made in the UK Government commissioned Union Connectivity Review (UCR) for the strategically important A75.

Specifically, Ms Harper has asked:

• Given the Union Connectivity Review recommendation to provide funding to the Scottish Government for improvements to the A75, can you provide a commitment that the UK Government will fully support how additional funding would be spent to improve the A75, and that the improvements and upgrades will be managed wholly by the Scottish Government, given that transport is a matter devolved to Holyrood?

• Can you provide information on how much funding will be given to the Scottish Government to upgrade and improve the A75?

• Will proposed additional funding be new money and not money which has already been ringfenced to come to Scotland through the Barnet formula?

• Can you outline the timescale for this funding to be provided to the Scottish Government, which will allow much needed, and indeed much lobbed for, upgrades to the A75 to go ahead?

• Should the Scottish Government’s STPR2 make recommendations for improvements to the A75 – as I hope is the case – will the UK Government respect these decisions and allow the Scottish Government to fully implement these improvements?

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Scotland with five key questions following the publication of the UK Government commissioned Union Connectivity Review. My letter asks how much money the UK Government will make available to the Scottish Government for much needed upgrades to the strategically important A75, whether this will be new money and not money which was already allocated to the Scottish Government through the Barnett Formula, whether – given that transport is a devolved area of policy – the Scottish Government will have complete autonomy over how this money is spent. I have also asked for an assurance that the UK Government will not carry out any action without the say so of the Scottish Government.

“Since my election to the Scottish Parliament in May 2016, I have continually called for significant investment in South West Scotland’s transport infrastructure, namely the A75, A76, A77, rail and bus connectivity. Indeed, over the last 24 months, the Scottish Government have carried out extensive consultative work with communities across South Scotland, and the country as a whole, on the transport priorities which should feature in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2).

“As part of this work, the Scottish Government commissioned a specific South West Scotland Transport Study which consulted over 2,000 people across Dumfries and Galloway alone. This study made several recommendations for transport infrastructure improvements, including to the A75 and A77, the establishment of rail links between Cairnryan-Stranraer, Stranraer-Dumfries and Dumfries-Lockerbie, as well as improved bus services. These recommendations will feed into the STPR2 which is to be published early in the new year.

“Given that transport is an area of policy devolved to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act, and given that the Scottish Government have a process underway to identify transport improvements, I am pleased that the UCR has not committed the UK Government to upgrading any transport infrastructure in Scotland. Instead, and this is the important point, the UCR has made recommendations for the UK Government to make funding available to the Scottish Government for investment in and upgrades to the A75.

“I look forward to hearing back from the Scottish Secretary.”