Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called for more powers for the Scottish Parliament to ease traffic on the A9 north of Inverness and help combat climate change.
He was speaking after he questioned Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson over what powers the Scottish Parliament had to encourage more freight onto the railway.
Mr Stevenson answered that the current planning powers did not allow for him to act and that he only had the power of persuasion and offering financial support.
Speaking after MR Gibson said….
"The Minister agrees that more freight traffic on rail as opposed to the road is a good thing. However at the moment he is hamstrung by the current devolution settlement into mere powers of persuasion, which can only go some way to addressing the problem."
"Getting more freight onto the rail and taking it off the A9 and other roads north of Inverness is as much a climate change issue as it is safety. You have the situation where 95% of supermarkets are within 1 mile of the Far North Line however the bulk of the stock comes from road as opposed to rail. This must change."
"I hope that a consensus can be worked out across the Chamber to ensure that power is devolved to Scotland to lessen the burden of traffic on roads in the North."
Note: Photo of Tesco lorry on A9 Ord Of Caithness