Investment plea on A75
Euroroute slammed as ‘inadequate’
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