What now for the Rest?
Online petition calls for tunnel
In the wake of a series of landslips in four days at the Rest and be Thankful, serious questions are being asked about current measures designed to protect this section of the A83.
Social media was ablaze with comment – much of it expressing frustration and anger that the A83 has yet again been closed for a lengthy period despite the fact millions have been spent to protect the carriageway.
Businesses relying on tourism were hit over the weekend after Storm Callum sparked the second slides on Friday October 12.
Hotels around Mid Argyll reported booking cancellations as visitors opted against making the lengthy road detour. Meanwhile, the Western Ferries service across the Clyde put on four boats on a ‘load and go’ basis.
Other businesses, including food and drink and haulage operations, also felt the effects – eased slightly when the old military road diversion route was opened on Monday.
Speaking on Wednesday as teams continued to work to clear debris and repair damaged ‘mitigation’ netting by the A83, Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s north west manager, said: ‘Our teams are working hard to do all they can to open the A83 as soon as it is safe to do so, and we thank the local community and road users for their patience while we complete operations at the Rest and be Thankful.’
Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara called for a meeting with Scottish Transport Minister Michael Matheson, commenting: ‘A solution to infrastructure investment to stem the flow of people and investment from the West Coast must be found as a matter of urgency.’
Mr Matheson has agreed to attend the next meeting of the A83 Taskforce on November 15, and he can expect some tough questions.
Longstanding campaigner Donald Clark, of Inveraray’s George Hotel said: ‘I’m incensed Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland continue to talk up the ‘mitigation measures’. It has been good luck rather than good judgement that a fatal incident hasn’t occurred.’
In the wake of the latest problems, Tarbet businesswoman Jane Ireland started an online petition headed ‘A bypass tunnel – the only viable solution to the Rest and Be Thankful problems’.
Ms Ireland, owner of the Slanj restaurant, said: ‘When the Rest is closed it gives out the wrong message, that Argyll is closed. What we need to do is work together for a better solution.’
Mid Argyll councillor Dougie Philand began a parliamentary petition in 2012 to press for a more permanent solution at the Rest.
He said this week: ‘The petition and comments have demonstrated the overwhelming support for a permanent solution and most don’t see the nets as a permanent solution.’
Contractors hard at work repairing landslide mitigation netting after the latest landslides – but is netting the answer?