AN SNP backbencher has hit out as the Scottish Government for refusing to bring forward updated plans on whether key roads are to be dualled – labelling the current strategy “plainly impossible”.

Fergus Ewing, a former Scottish Government minister, has criticised party bosses after his plea to Nicola Sturgeon earlier this month to bring forward an updated plan to duel the A9 and A96 appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

In an apparent dig at his party leadership, Mr Ewing highlighted the pledge to dual the road was made 13 years ago without being completed.

Mr Ewing, an outspoken critic of the SNP-Greens Government on a host of issues including the climate crisis, raised a point of order at Holyrood.

He said: “On September 8, I asked, in the this chamber, the First Minister in the light of loss of life in road incidents over the summer, (whether) the Scottish Government will bring forward detailed revised timetables and detailed proposals for delivery of its 13-year-old pledges regarding dualling the A9 and A96.

“She provided the welcome assurance that safety is paramount.”

An emitional Mr Ewing added: “It is with great sadness that I report two further people have lost their lives in two separate incidents on the A9, both last Friday.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families.”

The former minister asked the presiding officer “how I can secure the objective of the Scottish Government proposing an oral ministerial statement to this chamber setting out its revised plans”, adding “not least because the current target for dualling the A9 remains 2025 – something that’s plainly impossible and requires updating”.

He said: “Procurement is complex but that need not prevent the publication of such plans and after all, it did not prevent the 2025 target being fixed in the first place.

“What procedure or process is available to me as a backbencher in the party in government to represent my constituents on this vitally important matter?”

Presiding officer Alison Johnstone said: “It is of course a matter for the Scottish Government whether it wishes to propose making a ministerial statement.

“Your comments are now on the record.”

Speaking to Mr Ewing earlier this month, the First Minister insisted that “work is continuing on the A9”.

She added: “The section between Tomatin and Moy is currently under procurement, and it is expected that the construction contract will be awarded later this year.

“Design work is progressing on the rest of the programme, with the statutory process well under way for seven of the remaining eight schemes.

“The evidence-based review on fully dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen will report by the end of this year, and we will take forward enhancements on that corridor to improve connectivity between surrounding towns, tackle congestion and address safety and environmental issues.”