Landslides at Rest and Be Thankful ‘could prove fatal’

A business owner has said the Argyll road isn't safe and it's only a matter of time before someone is killed.

Landslides at Rest and Be Thankful ‘could prove fatal’

A business owner has said it is only a matter of time before someone is killed in a landslide at the Rest and Be Thankful following a landslip earlier this week.

Jane Ireland, owner of the Slanj Loch Lomond restaurant in Tarbet, said she no longer feels safe travelling on the road and is calling for a permanent solution.

Debris blocked the A83 during heavy rain in the region on Tuesday, with 6000 tonnes of material sliding down the hillside.

It also covered the Old Military Road, which has previously been used as a diversion when the A83 has been blocked.

Teams are continuing to clear the debris, with hopes the Old Military Road can be reopened on Saturday.

Ms Ireland, 53, said several bookings at her restaurant have been cancelled as a result and her takings are down 50%.

The stretch of the A83 has been closed a number of times due to landslips – including for nine days in 2018 – and Ms Ireland said she expects it to be closed for a significant period on this occasion.

She said: “I’ve got to drive up this everyday thinking oh my God – it’s not safe. This [landslip] is the closest we’ve been to a fatality – does there have to be a fatality before they do anything about it?”

Ms Ireland, who chairs a group representing 47 local businesses, said the financial situation is already difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone is teetering on the edge to try and get through winter and then this happens. It’s going to have a huge impact,” she said.

“This is one of the direct routes into Argyll – it wouldn’t happen if it was the M8. You wouldn’t have the Kingston Bridge [in Glasgow] closed for nine days.

“It could effectively be the end of the season, of what little season we have left. We want to say we are open… but it’s being able to get the message out.”

She said locals feel they are being ignored by Argyll and Bute Council and Transport Scotland.

“The money spent so far hasn’t been well spent,” she said. “There has to be a permanent solution. They are not listening to businesses and they are not listening to people that live in the local area. They are not having to drive the road every day.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said the body understands the frustration the latest landslip will cause local communities and drivers.

He added: “Our operating company, Bear Scotland, is working to assess, clear and then reopen the road as quickly as possible, but can only operate when it is safe to do so.

“To date, more than £13m has been invested in landslide measures at the Rest And Be Thankful and the Old Military Road, which have helped keep the road open for an estimated 48 days when it would otherwise have closed.

“This is part of the £79m invested in the wider maintenance and resilience of the A83 since 2007.

“Four roadside catchpits have now been completed, with a total capacity of almost 15,000 tonnes and we are exploring options for further catchpits with more work due to commence next month.

“We appreciate this will be scant consolation to those affected at this time and recognise that a permanent solution is key, albeit challenging, both from an engineering and financial perspective, in the current climate.

“The next task force meeting is due to reconvene next month.”

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