The Scottish infrastructure secretary has reacted defensively to a suggestion from the Westminster Government that a trunk road in the devolved nation should be upgraded.
It follows the publication by the Department for Transport (DfT) of the interim report of Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review.
Among the recommendations in the document is: ‘A higher capacity and faster connection on the A75 from the ferry port at Cairnryan to the M6 corridor for freight and passengers to and from Northern Ireland.’
The DfT said the Government would ‘work closely’ with devolved administrations on development studies.
‘For example, the UK government will work closely with the Scottish Government on any feasibility study on the A75.’
However, the Scottish Government’s infrastructure secretary, Michael Matheson, said that he had spoken to Sir Peter and the UK transport secretary Grant Shapps ‘and again made clear that transport infrastructure is a devolved matter'.
He added that 'the Union Connectivity Review was established without any discussion and consultation with Scotland, Wales and NI’.
The devolved administration already had a ‘robust’ process for identifying future transport infrastructure investment in Scotland – the Scottish Transport Projects Review - Mr Matheson said.
This afternoon I spoke to Sir Peter Hendy and Grant Shapps and again made clear that transport infrastructure is a devolved matter and the Union Connectivity Review was established without any discussion and consultation with Scotland, Wales and NI. 1/4— Michael Matheson MSP (@MathesonMichael) March 9, 2021
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday morning, Mr Matheson said: ‘The way in which the UK Government have taken it forward is more about a power grab, and the most recent example of trying to undermine the devolved settlement, and the decision makings of the Scottish Parliament on key transport infrastructure.’
Sir Peter also said he had also asked Professor Douglas Oakervee and Professor Gordon Masterton to lead ‘a discrete piece of work’ to assess the feasibility of a fixed link between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.
Mr Matheson called the idea ‘nothing more than a vanity project for Boris Johnson’ .