Concern over lack of action on the A1

There are no plans to dual the A1 between the border and Dunbar. Picture by Kimberley Powell
There are no plans to dual the A1 between the border and Dunbar. Picture by Kimberley Powell

Berwickshire is in danger of being left behind and becoming a transport bottleneck due to the absence of plans to dual the A1.

That’s the warning delivered by South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume following the Scottish government’s refusal to commission a feasibility study.

He is concerned that dualling the route between the border and Dunbar remains off the agenda in Scotland, even though it is now on the UK government’s agenda for Northumberland.

During last week’s question time at the Scottish Parliament, transport minister Keith Brown reaffirmed his party’s position that there are no plans to look at dualling the A1.

Mr Hume, a member of the recently-formed A1 Action Group, said: “I’m extremely disappointed by the minister’s continued refusal to listen to the overwhelming business case supporting the dualling of the A1, as well as the undoubted safety improvements that would follow on a road where accidents are three times more likely to occur on the single carriageways.

“I and the other members of the A1 Action Group are calling for the minister to commission a feasibility study into dualling the A1 north of the border.

“Given the UK Government’s support for dualling the A1 south of the border, the South of Scotland is in real danger of being left behind and becoming a transport bottleneck.”

One critic of the government has also pointed out it would only take five years to dual the A1 between the border and Dunbar – 30 years quicker than any high speed rail link is likely to be completed.

One response to the Scottish Government’s national planning document states: “It could be carried out within five years while waiting for high speed rail will take about 35 years.”

On the other side of the border, Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith believes a commitment to dualling the A1 in Northumberland would strengthen the union between England and Scotland ahead of next year’s independence referendum.

In a recent House of Commons session, Sir Alan put this point to the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael MP, asking what discussions he has had with Scottish Ministers.

“Ahead of the referendum on independence, it would send a strong message to the people of Scotland if dualling further stretches of the A1 were finally to be announced,” Sir Alan said.

“Dualling works on the A1 would be a clear demonstration to people on both sides of the border that we really are better together.”

The coalition government at Westminster has already announced a feasibility study into further dualling works on the A1 in Northumberland.