Damage to public roads
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.