South of Scotland Response to Union Connectivity Review

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Responding to the publication of the Union Connectivity Review, South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper said:

“The bottom line is that the A75 must be invested in, improved and upgraded on the grounds of safety and efficiency.

“I have been calling for this since my election to the Scottish Parliament in 2016. Upgrading the A75, as well as the A77, has been a constant theme of my work. This is evidenced by my raising of 38 parliamentary questions of the Scottish Government about the A75 and A77, by leading and speaking in four parliamentary debates on South West Scotland transport infrastructure, as well as hosting a meeting in Stranraer with the Transport Secretary and stakeholders. I have also attended a stakeholder meeting at Belfast Harbour with P&O, Stena and Belfast Harbour representatives. In addition, I have attended the A75 and A77 Core Group Elected Members meetings and regularly engaged with both the A75 and A77 Acton Groups.

“The Scottish Government are in the finalising stage of the Scottish Strategic Transport Project Review 2 (STPR2) which will be published in January. As part of the STPR2, the Scottish Government focused first on a specific South Scotland Transport Study which was published in 2020. Unlike the Union Connectivity Review, this study engaged with over 2,000 people across South Scotland on what the transport priorities for our region must be. Among the recommendations in this study, was; the establishment of rail lines between Cairnryan-Stranraer, Stranraer-Dumfries, Dumfries-Lockerbie, improved bus, cycle and walk-ways, but importantly, significant improvements to the A75 and A77. I have impressed on the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister the importance of these recommendations being included in the final STPR2. This is so important for our region.

“With regards to the Union Connectivity Review (UCR), published today (26/11/21), I want to be absolutely clear that its recommendation is for the UK Government to “offer funding to support the upgrade of the A75”. As the Scottish Parliament, under the current devolution settlement, does not have the ability to borrow or generate the revenue which would be required to undertake this level of significant transport infrastructure investment, the suggestion of funding to improve the A75 – so long as this is managed and decided upon by the Scottish Government in discussion with local people – is welcome. However, I want the UK Government to, clearly, outline timescales for this funding to be delivered and the terms which will be attached to it. The UCR was only published today and I have no doubt that many more questions will be asked on it and I certainly have follow up questions for the UK Government. We don’t even know yet which of the recommendations will be taken forward by the UK Government.”