South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Mid and East Antrim Councils have urged the Scottish and UK Governments to take immediate action on upgrading the A77/A75 trunk roads connecting Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland.
A recent independent report commissioned by the councils indicates that these upgrades could generate up to £5 billion in economic benefits for the United Kingdom.
The Strategic and Economic Impacts Report, produced by independent transport consultancy Sweco, highlights potential benefits such as reduced journey times and vehicle operating costs (£700 million) as well as combined carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) savings of around £95 million. The report explores seven improvement options, ranging from bypasses of key towns and rail enhancements to full dualling.
Currently, the A75 and A77 roads, forming part of the North Channel Corridor, are mostly single-carriageway, resulting in congestion and tailbacks. Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are limited to a 40mph speed limit. The Union Connectivity Review has already recommended that the UK Government offer funding to the Scottish Government for upgrading the A75 and urged improvements to the A77.
Council leaders from the three regions have emphasised the importance of these roads as "vital conduits for communities and commerce." South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Martin Dowey, noted that while localised solutions are considered, full dualling combined with rail improvements would have the greatest impact on journey times and the overall economy.
Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader, Councillor Gail Macgregor, stressed the need for the Scottish and UK Governments to recognise the economic significance of upgrading the A75 and A77 routes and investing in the region's ports. Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, highlighted the importance of these roads for Northern Ireland's economy and local businesses.
The report also considers rail improvements, including dedicated freight facilities at Barrhill, Cairnryan port, and Ayr. It estimates that diesel trains running from Stranraer to Birmingham could save over 20 million kilograms of CO2e per year compared to transporting the equivalent load by HGV.
While the report does not provide cost estimates, it focuses on the benefits of interventions such as 155 miles (250km) of improved dualling, junctions and bypasses, and 174 miles (280km) of electrified rail infrastructure. Costs will be determined if any of the proposals advance to the design stage.
The full report and a supporting video can be accessed at https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/A75-A77.