Transport Summit puts region’s priorities centre stage says MSP

More projects in Dumfries and Galloway will be included in the Scottish Government’s long term transport objectives as a result of the Transport Summit held today (Monday) in Dumfries.

Joan McAlpine MSP said the summit held by the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister John Swinney in the Easterbrook Hall put the transport priorities of Dumfries and Galloway centre stage, with improvements to the A75 and better links between Dumfries and the M74 a priority identified. Mr Yousaf told the summit the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), which identifies priorities up until 2032, was being refreshed and the summit offered an opportunity for the region to have more influence.

During the meeting, hosted by John Swinney, Ms McAlpine pointed out that the A75 improvements included in the STPR should be more ambitious.

However, one of the reasons for this is that the local priorities identified in the A75 route action plan have now all been delivered – the majority by the SNP Government since 2007, including the Dunragit Bypass and the Hardgrove to Kinmount upgrade. The Regional Transport Strategy – which was supposed to be reviewed and updated every four years, has not been refreshed since 2008 when it was first drafted.

Ms McAlpine, who introduced the A75 campaigners to Mr Yousaf ahead of the summit, said the regional transport authority needed to develop a new series of projects that could be ready to go if included in the STPR. But she emphasised that connecting Dumfries to the M74, and improving rail links to the regional capital also had to be included in the STPR.

Commenting she said:

“The summit was hugely positive and it was very clear that the Minister was listening. It represents a step change for Dumfries and Galloway. I don’t think anyone could reasonably expect the Minister to come and announce road improvements when feasibility studies have not been conducted at a local level. In fact, there are no shovel ready projects being proposed by SWESTrans on the A75, because the existing ones have all been delivered.

“We have to use this opportunity of the STPR review to get more projects onto the long term national transport infrastructure plan. The Minister was clearly impressed that a number of these projects were included in the presentation made to him ahead of the summit by Danny Pool and Lewis Irving of the dual the A75 campaign.

“Danny, Lewis and their co-campaigner Adam little are all young people who want to stay in the region and have identified improving the road as a way of making that possible, so it is important that we listen to their arguments. Mr Yousaf repeatedly praised them during the summit.

“But as well as the A75, it is absolutely vital that we connect Dumfries to the central belt of Scotland.

“I am delighted that exploring this was a manifesto commitment by the SNP. Again, we need a feasibility study at a local level to be presented to government so that it is a priority and ready to go as soon as the capital funding is available. Linking Dumfries better to the central belt, by both road and rail, in my view will have the most significant economic benefit to the whole region.”

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