Cameron leads Rest and Be Thankful debate at Holyrood

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Landslides are common occurrence on the A83 route at the Rest and Be Thankful. Photograph: BEAR Scotland.

The situation on the A83 road at the Rest and Be Thankful  has been described as amounting to an emergency and a threat to the economic recovery of Argyll and Bute.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron made the comments during a debate, which he had instigated, in the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday, October 6.

The Scottish Conservative MSP’s concerns were backed by MSPs from all parties present.

The road has become notorious for repeated landslips causing delays and long diversions for motorists.

In his opening speech, Mr Cameron said that the forecast from Transport Scotland that it could take up to 10 years to deliver a permanent solution was unacceptable and demanded the Scottish Government commit to delivering a new route by the end of the current parliament.

‘It is not just a road,’ he told members. ‘It is the key arterial route into and out of Argyll, relied upon by residents and businesses from towns including Campbeltown, Lochgilphead and Dunoon and many in our island communities like Islay, Jura and Gigha, who commute to the Central Belt by ferry and road.

‘When people talk about lifeline routes – this really is a life line.’

Mr Cameron reminded members of the estimated 100,000 tonnes of potential landslip debris that sits above the road.

‘That’s 100,000 tonnes of debris sitting above vehicles carrying our children; carrying our elderly to hospital; carrying people from our communities in and out of Argyll. This is very real and very threatening for a vast number of people,’ he added.

Mr Cameron appealed directly to Transport Minister Graeme Dey, who he acknowledged had visited the pass and met with the A83 Rest and Be Thankful Campaign group.

The group includes local people and businesses who came together in 2019 to make clear how unacceptable they found the situation.

Top of the agenda for the group is the delivery of a temporary forestry road before the next landslide closes the A83 in the autumn of this year – a 2012 Transerv report suggests this could be done in 10-12 weeks – and that a permanent solution is delivered by May 2024.

‘We need to treat this as an emergency; cut through the inertia of the ‘business as usual’ process at Transport Scotland and find a solution within this parliament,’ said group chairman and Inverneill resident John Gurr.

In an open letter to the transport minister, Mr Gurr, on behalf of the group, extended an invitation to Mr Dey and MSPs to take a journey down the A83, meet the businesses and people of Argyll that rely on the road and listen to their stories.

‘It now falls on your shoulders as to what happens next,’ he stated.

For full details on the situation and how to get involved visit the social media and website