Car­ry­ing a load of con­tro­versy

The Oban Times - - The Oban Times & West Highland Times - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

‘ABSOLUTLY shock­ing’ – those were the words of one Fort Wil­liam res­i­dent when asked about the tim­ing of an ab­nor­mal load- car­ry­ing lorry that trav­elled through the town last Tues­day.

The lorry, which caused may­hem in Fort Wil­liam on July 12, was said to be car­ry­ing a re­place­ment part for a wind tur­bine on the Isle of Skye.

Brian Mur­phy, coun­cil­lor for Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan, said: ‘ A wide load came through [ Fort Wil­liam] car­ry­ing a wind tur­bine and it took up both lanes of the road. It caused a long tail­back on its way up to Skye.’

Speak­ing to The Oban Times last week, Mr Mur­phy said: ‘To al­low a load like that to go through the town in the mid­dle of the day, in the mid­dle of the week and in mid­dle of July just seems in­cred­i­ble.

‘Fort Wil­liam is a bot­tle­neck at the best of times. There are no diver­sions. For there to be some­thing like that go­ing through, I can’t imag­ine the cost – com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles be­ing held up, what it’s cost­ing the pub­lic in terms of time and fuel, a large cost to buses and taxis … all timeta­bles will be re­ally messed up.

‘I will be writ­ing to Trans­port Scot­land, to the po­lice, all the MSPs and any­one I can get a hold of re­ally be­cause this just can­not hap­pen, es­pe­cially in the height of the sea­son. They must re­alise we are putting peo­ple off the area and mak­ing it a night­mare for those who live here.’

Mr Mur­phy con­tacted Po­lice Scot­land’s traf­fic divi­sion im­me­di­ately to ex­press his con­cern about the load re­turn­ing to Fort Wil­liam on its jour­ney from Skye the fol­low­ing day (July 13).

He said: ‘The po­lice traf­fic agreed that the load should be told to come down the A9.

‘It said it was go­ing to con­tact the haulage com­pany to in­struct them to go back down the A9, and as far as I’m aware that’s what it did.

‘I made the point that these lor­ries should be trav­el­ling at night, but I was in­formed that they are not al­lowed to go out when it is dark. How­ever, at this time of year, they could still be mov­ing in the very early hours when it is light but there is less traf­fic. I un­der­stand in the win­ter it’s dif­fer­ent, but the roads are much qui­eter then.’

Mr Mur­phy added: ‘In the long term, I would like to see an ac­knowl­edge­ment from Po­lice Scot­land and Traf­fic Scot­land that ab­nor­mal loads should not be go­ing through Fort Wil­liam at this time of year dur­ing the day.’

A spokesper­son for BEAR Scot­land re­sponded: ‘Haulage com­pa­nies are re­quired to in­form us of their in­tended move­ments and we are re­quired to ad­vise them of the safest and most suit­able route to take, as well as point­ing out any roadwork re­stric­tions.

‘The ve­hi­cle trav­el­ling on the A82 on July 12 was one of 73 noted on that route alone this month and, as it is not re- quired, we were not specif­i­cally no­ti­fied of the tim­ing of the move­ment.’

‘We have no power to dic­tate the tim­ing of move­ments al­though most com­pa­nies choose to do so off­peak.

‘ When no­ti­fied by the haulier or an af­fil­i­ated party, there is usu­ally a cer­tain win­dow of time given by the ap­pli­cant as to when the ab­nor­mal load will run, some­times span­ning months rather than pro­vid­ing a spe­cific date and time.’

A Po­lice Scot­land spokes­woman said: ‘ Po­lice es­corted the wide load through Fort Wil­liam and onto In­ver­garry.’ One women told The Oban

Times: ‘I saw a po­lice bike with the blue lights on pass­ing the golf club in Fort Wil­liam. That then sig­nalled for the lorry to slow down/stop. Then about three min­utes later a po­lice car with blue lights went past and maybe one minute later the lorry went past.’

Ste­wart Ma­cLean from the A82 part­ner­ship said: ‘This jour­ney should have been un­der­taken in off­peak times, and the haulier should have been en­cour­aged to use the A9 where pos­si­ble when trans­fer­ring goods to the West Coast.

‘The A82 is hardly suit­able for nor­mal traf­fic with­out this in­creased bur­den. I think there was a sig­nif­i­cant break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween na­tional and lo­cal agen­cies, as it seems no- one lo­cally was ad­vised of what was hap­pen­ing.’

The lorry car­ry­ing a wide load caused ma­jor traf­fic dis­rup­tion across Lochaber last week.

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