In­vest­ment plea on A75

Euro­route slammed as ‘in­ad­e­quate’

The Galloway News - - VOICE OF THE PEOPLE - Stu­art McFar­lane

One of the coun­try’s big­gest trade or­gan­i­sa­tions is call­ing for ur­gent in­vest­ment on the “age­ing” A75.

The Freight Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (FTA) has voiced con­cerns about the state of the road tak­ing traf­fic from Gretna to the ferry port at Cairn­ryan.

The FTA’s pol­icy man­ager for Scot­land, Chris MacRae, said: “For such a key route, the lack of con­sis­tent road sur­face is a headache for both freight op­er­a­tors and lo­cal res­i­dents and de­serves ur­gent at­ten­tion.

“By­passes need to be con­structed as a pri­or­ity for the vil­lages that the road cur­rently trav­els through and we would urge Trans­port Scot­land to in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­bil­ity of du­pli­cat­ing the cur­rent A9 pilot scheme, which uses aver­age speed cam­eras and in­creased speed lim­its of 50mph, to keep this key eco­nomic cor­ri­dor to and from North­ern Ire­land open and func­tion­ing ef­fi­ciently.”

Ac­cord­ing to the as­so­ci­a­tion, the port at Cairn­ryan han­dles around 45 per cent of North­ern Ire­land’s trade with the UK.

There are around 9,000 sail­ings a year on the Loch Ryan to Belfast route, ac­count­ing for 410,000 units of freight.

Growth on the route has grown by 1.3 per cent over the last year but that is out­stripped by far greater growth in move­ments be­tween the ports of Holy­head and Dublin.

And the as­so­ci­a­tion warned: “This will only con­tinue if the in­ad­e­quate qual­ity of the A75 is not ad­dressed soon.”

Sea­mus Le­heny, the FTA’s pol­icy man­ager for North­ern Ire­land, added: “Trad­ing con­di­tions are al­ready un­der stress over busi­ness’ Brexit con­cerns and the un­cer­tainty on de­liv­ery times caused by an age­ing road net­work is only com­pound­ing the prob­lem.

“The A75 in Scot­land is the quick­est di­rect route con­nect­ing Great Bri­tain to ship­ping serv­ing North­ern Ire­land and is vi­tally im­por­tant for ‘just in time’ de­liv­er­ies which re­tail­ers and agri- food pro­duc­ers in North­ern Ire­land rely on.”

He added: “It is be­holden on cen­tral gov­ern­ment, as well as the de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions, to en­sure that ve­hi­cles, prod­ucts and ser­vices can con­tinue to make it to the ports on time so that busi­nesses on both sides of the Ir­ish Sea can con­tinue to flour­ish – and that will re­quire ur­gent and sus­tained in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments.”

A Trans­port Scot­land spokesper­son said: “We recog­nise the im­por­tance of Cairn­ryan as a key strate­gic port link­ing Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land and wel­come the in­vest­ment by both P&O and Stena Line in fa­cil­i­ties and ves­sels.

“Since 2007, we have in­vested over £50 mil­lion in six road im­prove­ment projects along the A75, pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional over­tak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on the route.”

He added: “We will shortly be com­menc­ing the South West Scot­land Trans­port Study which will con­sider the ra­tio­nale for im­prove­ments to road, rail, pub­lic trans­port and ac­tive travel on the key strate­gic cor­ri­dors in­clud­ing the A75.

“The study out­puts will in­form a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the Strate­gic Trans­port Projects Re­view and al­low Scot­tish Min­is­ter’s to con­sider how best to con­nect all parts of Scot­land through a range of fu­ture trans­port in­ter­ven­tions.”

In a de­bate at West­min­ster yes­ter­day the Dum­fries and Gal­loway MP Alis­ter Jack joined the cam­paign for in­vest­ment on the A75.

He claimed liveli­hoods could be threat­ened if hauliers switched to the Holy­head port in Wales due to frus­tra­tion over the con­di­tion of the Euro­route.

Ferry A Stena Line boat at Cairn­ryan

Com­mons de­bate Alis­ter Jack

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