What now for the Rest?

On­line pe­ti­tion calls for tun­nel

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Colin Cameron edi­tor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­tiser.co.uk

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.’

Pho­to­graph: BEAR Scot­land.

Con­trac­tors hard at work re­pair­ing land­slide mit­i­ga­tion net­ting af­ter the lat­est land­slides – but is net­ting the an­swer?

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