Calls have been made to halt a consultation on options for dualling a major north-east road.
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has written to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson urging him to put the brakes on a consultation into the project to dual the A96 between Huntly and Aberdeen.
He has also made repeated calls for transport bosses to reconsider ruling out dualling the road along its existing route.
Mr Macdonald said: “At a recent meeting in Inverurie, representatives from the local A96 Action Group were able to put forward their case for putting the option back on the table to representatives from Transport Scotland and Amey Arup.
“Neither Transport Scotland nor Amey Arup have yet been able to provide a clear explanation of why this option was deselected so early and failed during the meeting to answer the Action Group’s compelling arguments.
“I have now written to Michael Matheson making this clear, and urging him to bring a halt to the consultation so it can be reopened with Online Inverurie as an option, which the public can be invited to comment on.”
Transport Scotland has faced repeated calls to justify why dualling the existing A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road at Inverurie has not been included in proposals to widen the route.
Campaigners have claimed the option has been “rejected prematurely” on “flawed and incomplete” information.
However, Mr Matheson previously claimed the dropped option would result in the loss of some properties and gardens of residents along the existing route.
But Mr Macdonald said the option would only have an impact on neighbouring properties if they built the road to a higher standard than the AWPR – meaning it would be a wider road.
He added: “If you dual the existing route at the current standard then you don’t have the impact on properties.”
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A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Re-use of the existing route between East of Huntly and Aberdeen has been investigated thoroughly as part of the design and assessment process.
“Due to a number of factors, such as the existing trunk road alignment and the impact on existing roadside properties, as well as the high number of junctions and accesses, the assessment concluded it would be more suitable to develop the new dual carriageway offline from the existing trunk road at Inverurie, with the existing A96 retained for use as part of the local road network.
“However, some of the options under consideration do include sections of online upgrade on other parts of the route where this is feasible.
“The consultation is now closed and all feedback received is vital and will be taken into consideration as we look to identify a preferred option for the scheme later this year.”