A1 dualling must be kept on national agenda says MSP

THE importance of the A1 in the north has finally been recognised by the UK Government, with the route reclassified as being of strategic national importance.

Campaigners in Berwickshire and Northumberland have been urging both Whitehall and Holyrood to recognise the need to upgrade the route from its previous classification as a regionally important route.

Its previous classification meant that the road was denied funding for dualling, but despite this week’s reclassification, dualling work is still likely to remain a long way off as both government’s look to cut back spending not add to it.

Berwickshire MSP John Lamont said: “I am very pleased that the UK Government has recognised the importance of the A1 by designating it as a route of Strategic National Importance. Its local importance is of no doubt but its recognition as being of importance to the national road network adds weight to the case for making improvements in Berwickshire. The Scottish Government cannot be left behind and I will now be putting pressure on the Scottish Transport Minister to commit to make improvements to the A1 in Berwickshire.

“As one of the key routes linking Scotland and England, there is a strong case for dualling the remaining single carriageway sections of the road, including most of the stretch through Berwickshire. Not only would this benefit the local, regional and national economy, but it is likely it would also cut down the number of accidents caused at existing junctions and also through overtaking.

“It is important that we keep the dualling of the A1 on the national agenda so that when money is available for improvement works, there is a strong case for bringing that investment to our area.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, of the A1 Action Group, said: “This makes a terrific difference as we are now at the table and can start to lobby.

“The road is now on the national road network and when you look at it with fresh eyes it is clearly not up to scratch - it is full of potholes, is single track and all the other things we all know too well.”

In a written ministerial statement to the House of Commons on Monday, the Parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, Norman Baker MP said: “The strategic national corridors were established in 2009 to define the network over which the largest proportion of strategic traffic moves around the country.

“The original definition also provided for connectivity between the four nations of the United Kingdom, but there was no specific provision for connecting capital cities.

“We concluded that the routes linking Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to the nearest urban strategic destination should be recognised.

“Specifically, we identified two routes as having national significance: namely the Al to the Scottish border, providing a defined link to Edinburgh; and a route between Bootle and Birkenhead, providing connectivity with Belfast.”