Road slip risk needs urgent checks

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A crumbling wall ‘holding up’ a scenic cycle route next to a busy main road at Benderloch road needs investigating before it collapses, a community councillor has warned.

The retaining wall to the left of  Benderloch’s viewpoint supports a former railway banking that is now topped by a Sustrans cycle path and runs close to the A828.

Cracks have appeared in the retaining wall below the Sustrans cycle path at Benderloch.

If the road ever collapsed it would cause havoc, forcing a 93-mile detour via Tyndrum, Glen Coe and Ballachulish.

The wall’s foundations appear to be crumbling away at beach-level and a huge crack has appeared. High tide lines mean water is getting in behind it and eroding the soil at the back of it, leaving hollow gaps and filling up with weeds.

The stretch of beach next to the wall is privately-owned but the question of who owns the wall itself is frustrating those who want reassurance it will be repaired if it needs to be made safe, says Ardchattan community councillor Willie Barnett.

Mr Barnett said: ‘There’s not much holding it up. At the moment we are trying to determine who owns the wall on the title deeds. If that wall goes, then so will the cycle track and the A828.

‘It’s a grey area as to who is responsible for it. It needs proper investigation. If it turns out to be nothing, then we can walk away from it but if it is something, just imagine the catastrophe if it collapsed.

‘Until it’s looked at we really don’t know how bad it is. It might last a couple of years yet but those responsible for it  need to be aware of it now. To have to re-route all the way round by Bridge of Orchy to get to Fort William would be horrendous. Think of the chaos for hauliers, buses and schoolchildren.

‘We’re not trying to scare anyone but we are trying to raise the issue with the professionals who can investigate it before it is too late.’

Oban North and Lorn councillor Elaine Robertson  joined calls for the wall to be checked. ‘It’s essential the wall is assessed with urgency to ascertain if it is a facing wall on rock or whether it is just holding up loose soil.

‘If there’s any danger to the main road, it’s a major issue. It’s also a big issue for Sustrans but it’s not as threatening for them as it is to the whole economy and the residents on the A828 route.’

Although the wall does not show up on Argyll and Bute Council’s assets map, a spokesman told The Oban Times it would still  be carrying out an inspection of the wall as soon as possible.

Responsibility for the wall is a question also being faced by BEAR Scotland, which told The Oban Times it is aware of its condition but it is not its responsibility.

‘On checking the Transport Scotland inventory, it would appear this wall does not come under our remit. We have advised Transport Scotland and are awaiting further instruction as to the ownership of the wall,’ said a BEAR spokesman.

Transport Scotland said BEAR acts on its behalf and if the wall was not within its remit, it was unlikely to fall within its. A spokesperson said if was not on its land ‘then responsibility will lie elsewhere’.

A Sustrans Scotland spokesperson said it did not own any land in the area but was aware of the problem, adding ‘as custodians of the National Cycle Network we will continue to closely monitor the situation along Route 78’.

‘They will all be running for the hills now. No one will want to take responsibility for the wall because repairs will be so expensive but we need to know who it belongs to,’ said Mr Barnett.