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A96: Dualling Hardmuir to Fochabers


Transport Scotland

UN Sustainable Development Goal


Key Services

Coordination, biodiversity, LVIA, Geology &, soils and Contaminated Land, materials, carbon and climate, traffic & transportation, consultation and Landowner engagement.

Our Guide To The UNSDG goals

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Project Overview

DMRB Stage 2 and 3 assessments, statutory procedures, preparation of tender and contract documentation, and construction supervision for the proposed 46km upgrade of the A96 Trunk Road between Hardmuir and Fochabers to dual carriageway.


The Challenge

As part of the Mott MacDonald Sweco (MMS) Joint Venture, Sweco is providing a range of multi-disciplinary services to support the progressions of the design and assessment of the proposed upgrading to dual carriageway of the A96 trunk road between Hardmuir and Fochabers in Moray, Scotland. For Sweco’s environmental planning team the objectives include supporting a balanced approach to assessing route options, informing the integrated work on development of a well mitigated scheme and the preparation of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposals.

The Solution

Sweco, in a joint venture with Mott MacDonald (MMSJV), was appointed by Transport Scotland in 2016 to progress the DMRB Stage 2 and 3 assessments, statutory procedures, preparation of tender and contract documentation, and construction supervision for the proposed 46km upgrade of the A96 Trunk Road between Hardmuir and Fochabers to dual carriageway. This work forms an essential part of the A96 Dualling Programme, which comprises upgrading the full length of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen to dual carriageway by 2030. 

An understanding of the environmental sensitivities in the area was vitally important to support the development of route options. Key sensitivities in the area include existing flooding, a mixture of landscapes and protected woodlands, large areas of high quality farmland, important water sources including the Spey Abstraction Scheme, scattered properties and the need to cross large and ecologically-sensitive watercourses. 

The long-list of route options were appraised against the Scheme Objectives, and in further detail through a series of paired route option comparisons, to remove the poorer performing options and arrive at a shorter set of most feasible route options. Due to the expansive study area and often conflicting sensitivities in each, environment input, working closely with our multi-disciplinary team, and feedback from key stakeholders and the general public has been integral to the developing options thus far.  

Once a preferred option is determined in the second half of 2018, the next stage of assessment will involve EIA and a more thorough assessment of potential environmental effects and mitigation, including detailed flood, noise and air quality modelling and ecological surveys.

Pictured: Aerial view of proposed A96 dual carriageway at Forres looking north-east. 

The Result and Benefit to the Client

The project is intended to deliver improved infrastructure as part of a programme by Transport Scotland to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen. This is projected to enhance local and regional economies and provide safer and more reliable journeys for users of the road. The project will also deliver significant new sections of non-motorised user path facilities which are intended to better connect communities in the A96 corridor and encourage journeys by walking and cycling.

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