HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc365-6
1. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has completed his inquiry into the alternative routings of the trunk road from Inverness to Invergordon: and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

Preliminary assessment of these studies suggests that a route crossing the Beauly Firth and running through the Black Isle to Dingwall and Invergordon merits further consideration. I am, therefore, proposing to invite the Jack Holmes Group, which was responsible for earlier proposals relating to development in this area, to make an urgent appraisal of the planning implications of such a route. In carrying out this task the Group would undertake consultations with the planning authorities concerned.

When I receive the Group's report I intend to consult the highway authorities, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, organisations representing agricultural interests, and other interested bodies, before publishing a proposed route.

Mr. Maclennan

This is a most welcome Answer; and, in view of the different views which have been expressed, my right hon. Friend is to be congratulated on seeking a further objective study. Will the new study be able to take into consideration the advantages of crossing the Dornoch Firth as well?

Mr. Ross

I do not think that anything will be outside the remit of the new study, but we want as far as possible to concentrate its consideration on fairly realistic proposals. This is an important road and is an indication of the importance of this part of the country.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The right hon. Gentleman knows that I started my correspondence with him on this question a year ago. I, too, am concerned about the Dornoch Firth. Will he publish an assessment of the savings which could accrue from a reduction in maintenance of 20 to 30 miles of trunk road as against the cost of bridges and causeways?

Mr. Ross

All these matters will be taken into account.

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