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Two of South Kintyre’s councillors have reacted to the suggestion that it may be 10 years before there is a permanent solution to the landslip issues which have blighted the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.
A spokesperson for Transport Scotland, the national transport agency which oversees Scotland’s trunk road network, told the Courier that a specific timescale could not be given, despite reports of attendees at a recent stakeholders’ meeting being told it could be up to a decade – five years before work commences and another five years before it is complete.
The spokesperson said: ‘The current work to identify the preferred corridor is expected to be completed in spring this year. Following this, designs will be progressed and, as with other projects to improve the trunk road network, there will be a need to complete the necessary environmental assessments and statutory process to allow land to be acquired and the project constructed.
‘We recognise that the timescales for developing an alternative to the current route and finding a long-term solution to the challenges created by the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83 are frustrating for the community and we will look to compress the programme where possible.
‘However, it is important that the correct statutory process is followed to ensure a fair and transparent assessment of options and impacts on communities and road users.
‘We remain committed to progressing substantial shorter-term investment in the existing A83 in tandem with the work to identify a permanent solution as part of a two-phased approach and we will keep communities and road users updated as the design work progresses.’
Argyll First Councillor Donald Kelly said: ‘The suggested 10-year timescale is totally ridiculous and unacceptable and has to be accelerated as a matter of urgency. The Scottish Government needs to prioritise the A83 permanent solution and ensure the work is fast-tracked at every juncture.
‘We have been treated like second-class citizens for long enough and I am certain that if this was the M8, it would have been repaired years ago.’
Councillor Rory Colville said: ‘If there is any good news, it is that, at long last, there is a commitment by the government that a permanent solution is essential.
‘Meantime, it is vital that a temporary solution utilising the existing infrastructure is implemented as quickly as possible using a combination of the existing A83 route, the Old Military Road and the forestry track. At the same time, the release of much-needed capital funding is essential to help maintain and improve the alternative routes when the road is closed.
‘In ten years’ time, Argyll will either be part of a vibrant Scotland or will have been cast aside by a Scottish Parliament talking shop, full of promises undelivered.’