And finally… Spring Watch on the A96

Great crested newt A96 surverys PRA series of ecology and environmental surveys are to set to get underway this week along the A96 between Inverness and Nairn as part of plans to dual the road.

Teams of ecologists will start to gather vital information about the local environment in the coming months which will help inform the design work to deliver the new road.

The surveys will look for animals such as bats and great crested newts.

Infrastructure secretary Keith Brown said: “The Scottish Government has given a clear commitment to dual the A96, and a series of public exhibitions which concluded last week showing our latest plans, saw over 2,000 people take the opportunity to view our early assessment work for the route between the east of Nairn and Aberdeen. This underlines the keen interest local communities are showing for our plans and their wish to help shape the road’s future.

“We are pressing ahead with the programme and this week are getting ecological survey work under way on the section of road between Inverness and Nairn, including Nairn Bypass. This section of the road is at a more advanced stage, with a preferred route option exhibited last year and draft road orders expected to be published in 2016.

“The surveys this week will look at breeding birds and great crested newts in their natural habitat along the route, and over the coming months, further surveys for otters, red squirrel, pine marten, badgers, bats and wintering birds will also take place along with aquatic studies and other environmental and heritage surveys. Gathering this kind of information will give us a clearer understanding of the local environment and allow us to help protect the wildlife and their habitats as we take forward essential work to upgrade the main artery between Inverness and Aberdeen.”

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