Free Church to meet Scottish Transport Minister over A9

Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown will be meeting a delegation from the Free Church of Scotland over the dualling of the A9.

The A9 is the main road connecting south and north Scotland, and has been subject to frequent calls to make it two lanes in both directions because of the high volume of fatal accidents.

Between 2006 and 2010, there were over 1,200 collisions and 67 deaths on the road, leading it to be labelled 'Scotland's most dangerous road'.

Last week, 14 ministers from the Highlands wrote an open letter urging Keith Brown MSP to dual the A9 as a matter of urgency because they do not want to conduct any more funerals from accidents on the road.

The clergy, from the Presbytery of Inverness, Lochaber and Ross, said they had seen "families being torn apart after loved-ones have died in utterly devastating circumstances" and that it was their Christian duty to speak out "and prevent the unnecessary loss of life".

Mr Brown has responded to the plea by inviting Presbytery Moderator the Reverend Colin Macleod to discuss the Scottish Government's plans to dual the Inverness to Perth stretch of the A9.

The meeting will take place at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

Rev Macleod, Moderator of the Presbytery of Inverness, Lochaber and Ross, said: "There is a growing consensus that the dualling of this stretch of the A9 as quickly as possible is the most sensible option and one which is likely to substantially reduce fatalities and collisions on this road.

"Whilst we fully appreciate the dualling of the A9 from Perth to Inverness is not a simple project, we are hoping to convince the Scottish Government to fast-track these plans and bring the date for completion forward.

"We know this is not just an issue affecting Free Church folk, but all of our communities across the Highlands, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of people visiting the region every year.

"We are grateful for the Transport Minister's willingness to listen to our concerns, and hope that the meeting will have a positive outcome for all concerned."