Carrying a load of controversy
‘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.