Almost £9m spent to prevent Rest and Be Thankful landslips

Transport bosses were blasted after the landslip-plagued road in Argyll had an 'eye-watering' £8.5m spent on it.

Almost £9m spent to prevent Rest and Be Thankful landslips iStock
A83: Landslip-plagued road has had millions spent on it.

Transport bosses were blasted after it was revealed nearly £9m has been spent trying to stop landslips at the Rest and be Thankful.

An “eye-watering” £8.5m has been spent on the landslip plagued A83 route – including a further £3.5m set aside for the construction of more catchpits next to the trunk road.

However campaigners have slammed the latest move, claiming catchpits won’t stop landslips or help keep the road open as they called for a permanent solution.

The catchpits are designed to “capture” debris material from a landslip and prevent it from reaching the road.

Construction of the latest catchpit on the landslip-prone road was completed last month having taken twice as long to install as promised.

Maintenance firm Bear Scotland said the mitigation measure which started in September last year was to take up to five months to complete.

Bear Scotland has said the new catchpit will be formed in reinforced concrete is expected to take approximately nine months to complete, subject to weather and hillside conditions.

The firm said that for safety reasons temporary traffic lights will be in place on the A83 throughout the construction period.

The catchpit is set to provide an additional 1600 tonnes of debris storage capacity, bringing the total volume protection of the catchpits to around 21,600 tonnes.

A campaign backed by 1500 businesses issued a deadline of 2024 to finally resolve the issues with the vital Highlands route.

John Gurr, chairman of The Rest and Be Thankful Campaign said: “It is a lot of money spent on things that are not going to stop the landslips and not going to keep the road open.

“Even with the new catch pits the A83 will still be closed when it rains, and we are unlikely to have a two way road back in operation for another ten months.

“We still do not know what the plans are for a permanent solution.

“We need Transport Scotland make a decision and deliver a resilient solution far faster than planned ten years’ time.”

Another campaigner said: “This money would never have been needed to have been spent had the problems here been properly recognised in the first place and dealt with properly.

“Instead we have had many years of prevaricating and the consequent waste of money.”

Scottish Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron said: “Motorists have suffered misery on this key route for far too long.

“It is completely unacceptable that millions more of public money is set to be flung at the Rest and Be Thankful, without any guarantees that it will solve any problems.

“Eye-watering amounts of money have been spent over the years, but there still appears to be no end in sight.

“SNP ministers have had years to find a solution for the Rest and Be Thankful and must deliver that permanent solution as a matter of urgency.

“Constant closures and diversions are only harmful to the local economy the longer they go on.

“I will continue to push the SNP-Green Government to ensure that this critical route for rural communities is fit for purpose as soon as possible.”

Eddie Ross, Bear Scotland’s north west representative said: “Construction of the new catch-pit is a complex operation given the nature of the area within which it is to be built, and we will have geotechnical specialists on site daily to monitor the works as they progress over the coming months.

“Temporary traffic lights on the A83 are necessary to keep our teams as well as users of the route safe, and the team will do all they can to complete the project as quickly and safely as possible.

“We thank all road users and the local community for their continued patience while we do everything we can to progress with the ongoing mitigation measures at the Rest.”

Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “As well as bringing in short and medium term measures to increase resilience, we continue to progress work on a permanent long term solution to the issue.

“We appreciate that the timescale to develop an alternative route is frustrating for the local community, but we will look to bring forward the programme where we can.”