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A hundred thousand tons of debris is waiting to fall on to the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, an expert has claimed.
Transport Scotland route manager Neil MacFarlane has also told community chiefs in the area that 2020 saw 20,000 tons fall on to the road at that point – double what has fallen in nearly two decades.
The stretch of the road has been subject to regular closures since a landslide in October 2018 and was plagued by major landslips in 2020.
Mr MacFarlane also said workers from his organisation, as well as staff from BEAR Scotland, who maintain the route, will be staying on site for years.
Discussion of the route and its future took place at a virtual meeting of Helensburgh and Lomond Community Planning Group on Thursday February 11.
Lomond North SNP councillor Iain S Paterson sought information on whether there was an estimated time on when the road would fully reopen.
Mr MacFarlane said: ‘I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but it can be shared. In the last 19 years or so, there have been about 10,000 tons of material moved off the hill on to the road.
‘Last year alone, there was 20,000 tons – so that is double everything that’s happened in the previous 19 years, in one year.
‘At the moment, there is 100,000 tons on the move on the hill. We are looking at 12 options in a short timescale.
‘We want this to be done by March, because that is the end of the financial year.
‘The other milestone we have set ourselves is next winter. What can we do before then to build resilience?
‘It is impossible to say when the road will be open again 24/7, or two-way, as we do not know what is happening on the hillside.
‘What I can say with certainty is that BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland will be there for years.
‘We haven’t even talked about longer term solutions, but our colleagues in major projects are working on routes to Argyll.
‘We have to keep the road open and get it running 24/7 in both directions as soon as we can.’
Councillor Paterson then asked: ‘Those are quite significant changes in terms of figures of what is likely to come down. Are the mitigation measures going to be adequate to deal with that volume?’
Mr MacFarlane replied: ‘Not at the moment, but it is very unlikely 100,000 tons will come down in one go. It’s something we have to plan for and it will be looked at.’
South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly believes the severity of the situation highlights the need for a year-round ferry service between Campbeltown and Ardrossan, something for which he is campaigning.
A petition calling for such a service was submitted to the Scottish Parliament by Councillor Kelly and fellow Argyll First councillor Dougie Philand.
Councillor Kelly told the Courier: ‘The current situation at the Rest and Be Thankful should focus minds and give everyone 100,000 reasons why they should sign and share the petition for a year-round, lifeline ferry service between Campbeltown and Ardrossan.
‘We require significant support in order for this proposal to be taken to the next stage in the process. With this in mind, we would ask that businesses and members of the public get behind the petition to give it the best chance of success.’
He has written to all MSPs representing Argyll and Bute asking for their support and has so far received four positive responses. He now intends to write to all of the authority’s councillors.
People have until March 10 to sign the petition, which can be accessed on the following link: www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/petitions/campbeltownadrossanferry
Councillor Kelly is also asking those who have already signed the petition to check that their signatures are still recorded as some people have reported that theirs have disappeared.