Dam­age to pub­lic roads

The Oban Times - - Community News -

I DOUBT if any­one would ar­gue that the pub­lic roads in the High­lands and is­lands are in an ap­palling state.

Many in re­mote ar­eas, in­clud­ing Morvern, Su­nart and Ard­na­mur­chan, where there are fewer in­hab­i­tants to com­plain and no al­ter­na­tives, are the worst.

There is a rea­son for this. In the last few years they have been sub­ject to an un­prece­dented num­ber of con­trac­tors’ trucks car­ry­ing huge quan­ti­ties of heavy build­ing ma­te­rial des­tined for hy­dro elec­tric schemes.

In 2014 the gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a road user levy for heavy goods ve­hi­cles of 12 tonnes or more. The aim of the levy is to en­sure th­ese ve­hi­cles make a con­tri­bu­tion to the wear and tear of the road net­work.

Judg­ing by the state of the roads which lo­cal coun­cils say they have in­suf­fi­cient funds to re­pair and main­tain, the levy is ei­ther in­suf­fi­cient or it is not be­ing prop­erly ap­por­tioned.

Un­der the Road (Scot­land) Act 1984, Sec­tion 96, roads author­i­ties have leg­is­la­tion at their dis­posal to rem­edy this. It reads, in par­lia­men­tary jar­gon, ‘ Where as re­spects any pub­lic road it ap­pears to the roads au­thor­ity that hav­ing re­gard to the aver­age ex­pense of main­tain­ing the road, or other sim­i­lar roads in their area, ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­penses have been, or will be, in­curred by them in main­tain­ing the road by rea­son of dam­age caused to it by ex­ces­sively heavy, or other ex­tra­or­di­nary, ve­hi­cles or traf­fic, they may re­cover from any per­son so much of the ex­penses of main­te­nance as is, or is likely to be, at­trib­ut­able to that dam­age’.

Do High­land or Ar­gyll and Bute coun­cils not ex­er­cise th­ese pow­ers on our be­half – if not, why not? All hy­dro schemes even­tu­ally pro­duce enor­mous in­comes.

It is surely only right that hav­ing con­trib­uted to­wards the par­lous state of the roads on which the trav­el­ling pub­lic are now forced to put up with, those that build the schemes should be ac­count­able.

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