I SEE Fergus Ewing and the Inverness local press are at it again: improve the A9 because it’s killing people! No it isn’t!

I have been driving the road since the early 1970s on a regular basis – car, motorhome and truck – since it was a glorified goat track, torn to bits by lorries heading for the oil boom and so badly road-marked that the verges and centre lines disappeared completely with two minutes of snow at Drumochter.

The current road has a minimum 400 metres between bends on the single carriageways, a more than adequate distance for overtaking if it weren’t for all the Juan Fangios who come out and have a look, wonder if it is safe, have a wee debate with the passengers, decide whether to go or not and drop a gear when they are damn nearly into the next bend.

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The B7016 Biggar to Carnwath road, adjacent to which I have lived for more than 50 years, actually has a higher death rate per passenger mile than the A9! Nobody is crying out for it to be improved.

I recently travelled to Lairg on the A9, a bit further than my usual stop at Alness or Bonar Bridge, and found the journey pleasant enough, especially with the average speed limit mitigating at least some of the insanity for which the road used to be famous.

In the past I have actually been faced with a Transit van overtaking a caravan whilst a Mondeo passed the van, believe it or not, on single carriageway. I haven’t encountered anything like that since the cameras went up!

The road is completely inert, It just lies there and gets driven over. It does not rear up and smack anybody in the face. It’s a road. It is utterly incapable of culpability. The reason for “accidents” – which, by definition, the fatal incidents on the road are not, because somebody is responsible for every last one – is not the road. Tragic as the injuries and fatalities are, badly designed as some of the junctions are, it is still the drivers who cause them.

No, the A9 is not dangerous, but the standards of driving most assuredly are.

Les Hunter

IAN Roberts (Website comments, May 31) claims that Fergus Ewing could be speaking for the opposition. I've felt that way too for some time.

Fergus seems only to speak when opposing change and supporting the status quo; it seems he would be more at home amongst the "horse and hounds brigade " than in a supposedly radical party like the SNP.

He appears to have clung to his mother's political coat-tails for too long in order to get elected and keeps showing his true colours more frequently than he did in the past.

Maybe time for his future to be considered as an advocate for independence, as without hope of radical changes, independence has little to recommend it for Scotland 's future. "Vote for independence and keep the same" offers no hope for younger generations.

Drew Reid

I CONFESS that the Deposit Return Scheme has crept on me. It was probably about six months ago when it first came to my attention. No doubt lots of work had been going on in the background: a body appears to have been set up to administer the scheme, machines to accept the bottles and cans have been purchased and installed.

Almost suddenly the proposed scheme became the talk of the Scottish political steamie. Social and print media, TV and radio

news began to take an interest in the story and Lorna Slater, the Green minister for the “circular economy”, started to feature as the architect of this project.

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I seem to remember her addressing the Scottish Parliament a few short weeks ago claiming the scheme was ready to roll. At that time I did wonder how this would be possible when many of the producers seemed completely unprepared in terms of attaching the necessary barcodes to their products. In a very short time Ms Slater revised her over-optimistic predictions and the start of the scheme was suddenly postponed until March 2024. At that point the UK government seem to have entered the arena.

Ms Slater had to apply for an exemption to the Internal Market Act because of concerns that the Scottish scheme would effectively introduce trade barriers in different parts of the UK if it was introduced ahead of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and had different rules. She appears to have done this only relatively recently. The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has likened Ms Slater's approach to "building a 20-storey skyscraper then applying for retrospective planning permission.” It is difficult to disagree with their analysis of the situation.

As an active SNP member for nearly 50 years I am usually more than happy to attach blame to the UK Government, but on this occasion I cannot, in all honesty, see a way to do that. Lorna Slater has single-handedly landed the Scottish Government in the financial and political mire it now finds itself in with the possible complete or partial failure of the scheme and the further possibility of compensation claims in the pipeline.

In true Laurel and Hardy fashion – this is another fine mess the Greens have got us in to.

Brian Lawson