Cameron leads Rest and Be Thankful debate at Holyrood

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Landslides are common occurrence on the A83 route at the Rest and Be Thankful. Photograph: BEAR Scotland.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has described the situation on the A83 road at the Rest and Be Thankful as amounting to an emergency and a threat to the economic recovery of much of Argyll and Bute.

The Scottish Conservative MSP made the comments during a debate, which he had instigated, in the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday, October 6.

Mr Cameron’s concerns were backed by MSPs from all parties present.

The road has become notorious for repeated landslips causing delays and long diversions for motorists.

In his opening speech, Mr Cameron said that the forecast from Transport Scotland that it could take up to 10 years to deliver a permanent solution was unacceptable and demanded the Scottish Government commit to delivering a new route by the end of the current parliament.

‘It is not just a road,’ he told members.

‘It is THE key arterial route into and out of Argyll, relied upon by residents and businesses from towns including Campbeltown, Lochgilphead and Dunoon and many in our island communities like Islay, Jura and Gigha, who commute to the Central Belt by ferry and road.

‘When people talk about lifeline routes – this really is a LIFE LINE.’

Mr Cameron reminded members of the estimated 100,000 tonnes of debris that sit above that road.

‘That’s 100,000 tonnes of debris sitting above vehicles carrying our schoolchildren, carrying our elderly to hospital, carrying people from our communities in and out of Argyll. This is very real and very threatening for a vast number of people,’ he added.

Mr Cameron appealed directly to Transport Minister Graeme Dey who he acknowledged had visited the pass and met with the A83 Rest and Be Thankful Campaign Group.

The group is made up of local people and businesses that came together in 2019 to make clear how unacceptable they find the situation.

Top of the agenda for the group is the delivery of a temporary forestry road before the next landslide closes the A83 in the autumn of this year – a 2012 Transerv report suggests this can be done in 10-12 weeks – and that a permanent solution is delivered by May 2024.

‘We need to treat this as an emergency, cut through the inertia of the ‘business as usual’ process at Transport Scotland and find a solution within this parliament,’ said group chairman John Gurr.

BID4Oban is just one of the many organisations that have been actively involved with the campaign group since its inception and chief executive Andy Spence said: ‘Whilst the debate has highlighted the dire predicament Argyll residents are contending with, there is still a long way to go in getting a solution to the current conditions of the road.

‘It is vital to Argyll’s economy that urgent action is taken. When the Rest is closed the diversion routes are not fit for purpose causing congestion and unnecessary stress to residents, business and visitors.

‘If, as predicted, there is another major landslide the impact on the local economy could be significant as there are 100,000 tonnes of unstable rocks waiting to slide down.’

For full details on the situation and how you can become involved visit the social media and website