Yesterday we published an article on the Transport Minister’s formal information to Jamie McGrigor MSP that Transport Scotland is to use the old military road in Glen Croe – whose steep and winding nature at the Rest and Be Thankful end – in the days when radiators boiled – gave the top of that pass its name.
The Minister confirmed that Transport Scotland’s contractors will start this work in August and complete in November.
The resulting emergency diversion would be used when either landslides or an imminent threat of them closed the A83 higher up the hill.
There are practical issues in this plan which do not seem to have been discussed on consulted upon:
- the likely (and undeclared) need still to send trucks on the hour long diversion via Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Dalmally to Inveraray, leaving the business sector continuing to carry heavy additional fuel costs;
- the fact that, as our photograph (above) shows, the single track old military road starts its climb to the final set of chicanes to the current car park at Rest and Be Thankful on the sane side of the hill as the A83 and lies below it – in a position to collect debris from landslides first crossing the trunk road above.
These substantial issues notwithstanding, there is another issue not being discussed at all.
What is the heritage position of the old military road – centrally since its specific challenges to drivers and cars named the area?
It is unlikely that, even for an emergency use restricted to cars, Transport Scotland would not have to perform some radical revisions of this road, particularly, for safety reasons and in winter conditions, at the historically important chicanes.
Can this simply be done without consultation?
Certainly, a couple of years ago, the section of the old military road on the far side of the Rest, down Glen Kinglas between Butter Bridge and the junction with the A815 to Dunoon, suffered substantial amendment in the process of works to create a private hydro scheme.
It seemed strange then and still does, that such a significant physical legacy has no status in planning issues.
In the case of the Glen Croe section, now the focus of an ad hoc ‘solution’ to the A83’s unreliability, the next question is whether the appropriate planning authority is that of the National Park of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, which, we understand, includes this territory?
The National Park – which is its own planning authority – might be expected to have a specific interest in this historic road – which has real potential for use as a visitor attraction – which could make good use of the large informal car park at Butter Bridge, close beside the neglected but beautiful old stone bridge, created by an engineer called Butter, employed for the purpose by the Duke of Argyll of the time. This again names the area in which it sits.
We are drawing this matter to the attention of relevant members of Argyll and Bute Council – but it seems an issue on which there may be considerable public interest – and which would require to be resolved before it is too late.