Jane MacLeod of the Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Argyll, is asking Transport Minister, Keith Brown, to reconvene the A83 Task Force as a matter of urgency, in the wake of its closure yesterday, 3rd October, through further landslides.
She says: ‘We must stop this happening, particularly, if road closures are to take place on the A82 during much needed improvement works.’ [The A82 is the diversionary route in the event of many of the A83′s landslips. If both the A82 and the A83 were closed at the same time for different reasons, Argyll would be all but cut off.
Highlands and Islands MSP, Jamie McGrigor, who has consistently campaigned for improvements to the A83, says: ‘This is deeply frustrating news for local residents and businesses across Argyll & Bute, many of whom have already contacted me to express their annoyance and anger.
‘We are just entering autumn and to have the road closed by the first heavy rain of autumn is a real blow. My constituents fear this does not bode well for the rest of the year and winter.
‘Given that the new emergency diversion route at the Rest & Be Thankful, running along the old military road, is obviously too far west to be used to alleviate this particular landslip, I will be asking the Transport Minister what contingencies he can plan for in the event of further landslips in this locality.
‘As I have said repeatedly, as well as providing contingency measures, Ministers need to take bold action to put in place a robust and practical long-term plan than prevents the occurrence of landslips on the A83.
‘They have been warned for years about the impact of these closures and they need to take decisive action before real damage is done to the economy of Argyll & Bute.’
The landslide mitigation measures put in place by Transport Scotland on the A83 section in Glen Croe at Rest and Be Thankful appear largely to have kept that part of the road clear.making unnecessary the use of the resurfaced old military road below it, a designated relief road when the A83 above is closed by landslides.
A third landslide, presumably on the hillside below the A83 dumped debris on the now resurfaced old military road below, designated as a relief road when this section of the A83 is closed from landslides
The landslide first announced, leaving a modest 100 tonnes of debris on the A83 in Glen Kinglas between Butterbrudge and the Dunoon A815 junction, was on a stretch of road that was hit by substantial enough landslides around 4 years ago, in the worst cluster and spread of landslides this vital arterial road has suffered.
A third landslide left debris on the road south of the car park at Rest and Be Thankful – which is in Glen Croe.
This is a difficult situation for everyone.
Last night’s rain was extraordinarily vicious, with something of the order of 5 inches dumped in 24 hours.
The issue is the sheer lengths of the A83 sections with unstable hillsides above them.
In our view, the A83 Task Force, which started well, lost momentum and became seducible, accepting with barely a quibble the cheapest and by far the least able of the mitigation options identified by Transport Scotland consultants.
However, that section of the road was this time the less affected; and the scale of the challenge overall is, of course, daunting.
The A83 effectively holds hostage Argyll and much of the west coast and many of its islands. It is arguable that if the entire west coast of Scotland is not to become an economic basket case – which would damage the country as a whole – it is this road that must be protected properly against the geological weaknesses which afflict its reliability.