THE FIRM BEHIND major gas pipe repairs on the A96 in Elgin have denied any connection between work currently being undertaken and a major gas leak in the town.
Traffic chaos ensued in the town on Monday when roadblocks were set up by police on the west of the town at the KFC Restaurant following as part of the cycle path on the side of the road began to ‘bubble up’.
Motorists were sent on a wide detour via Lossiemouth in both directions as SGN engineers worked on the roadside leak – which happened just as the firm were engaging in a six-week repair of gas pipes on the A96 five miles to the west.
Traffic was brought to a halt at around 1.30pm on Monday and the wide detour remained in place for two hours as SGN staff carried out an emergency repair. Last night a spokeswoman insisted that there was no connection between the works in Elgin and the leak that caused the problem near Lhanbryde.
She said: “We worked with Police and Bear Scotland to minimise disruption as much as possible as we are aware this is a busy route. This emergency work was unrelated to the gas mains replacement works that we are currently carrying out along the east of the A96 through Elgin.”
Last week Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart warned of serious issues for people travelling the A96 on a regular basis as a result of SGN’s six-week programme to replace the gas pipe network in the town.
Reminding people of similar work in Nairn last year and the chaos that ensued, Mr Stewart said: “Of course I accept that such work has to be carried out to replace ageing gas pipes. That said, in relation to the Nairn chaos, poor traffic management contributed to the disruption.
“At the time and in response to my questions the Transport Minister claimed there was a disconnect between SGN, Highland Council and Bear Scotland. Now SGN are to lay new gas main pipes across the A96 in Elgin – and while we can expect disruption, hopefully this will be kept to a minimum by good traffic management.”
Many streets were already gridlocked yesterday around the area of the scheduled work, with the emergency on the other side of town exasperating and already difficult drive through Elgin.