Overview

Feedback on project corridor options

We are asking for comments on the 11 options by Friday 30 October.

The feedback received will inform the progression of Stage 1 data collection, assessment of corridors and sifting work and we will provide an update on that work as it progresses.

We will then look to make recommendations for a preferred route corridor with alignment options in Spring 2021.

Background

The section of the A83 between Ardgartan and the Rest and Be Thankful car park has a history of hillside instability, in particular on the slopes above the Rest and Be Thankful.

A83 trunk road passing through mountain scenery

The Rest and Be Thankful is the highest point on the A83, separating Glen Kinglas from Glen Croe. It is also one of the places in Scotland with the highest risk of landslides and debris flow hazards. These have increased in recent years due to the frequency of heavy, intense and prolonged periods of rainfall.

Following a number of landslides in 2004, Transport Scotland carried out the Scottish Road Network Landslides Study. As part of this study a hazard assessment and ranking exercise was carried out for debris flow. From this assessment the A83 Ardgartan to Rest and Be Thankful is one of the most highly ranked debris flow hazard sites in Scotland.

As part of the £82 million invested in the maintenance of the A83 since 2007, over £13.6 million has been invested in landslide mitigation works at the Rest and Be Thankful. This was to help keep Argyll open for business by reducing the impact of landslides on the A83.

We are aware of the A83's importance as the primary route to Argyll. In 2012, the A83 Route Study was carried out to identify and assess potential options to minimise the effects of road closures.

Our objectives then were to:

  • reduce the impact on journey times by reducing the frequency and duration of road closures caused by landslides
  • reduce the economic impact to the A83 study area by reducing the frequency and duration of road closures.

The resulting landslide measures have seen the opening of the alternative military road, installation of nets, catchpits and improvements to drainage at this location. These interventions have already proven to be successful, helping to keep the A83 open for an estimated 48 days when it would otherwise have been closed.

We continue to explore ways to reduce the risk of impacts caused from landslides in the area.

Construction of the next roadside catchpit at the Rest and Be Thankful, a project valued at £1.2 million, is currently scheduled to be built between this September and March 2021. Once complete, the Phase 1 catchpit will provide an additional 4,600 tonnes of volume to collect debris flow from landslides, to add to the 15,000 tonnes provided in the existing four catchpits.

We have also progressed the programme to proactively plant trees on the hillside to help reduce the risk of landslides in the area. Land purchase at the Rest and Be Thankful has completed and we are working closely with Forestry & Land Scotland to reintroduce the required local provenance native vegetation on the hillside.

 

Two phase strategy

The mitigation works to the existing route form a substantial investment to help reduce the risk of road closures. However, most recently, it appears that severe weather (rainfall) and the associated landslip events are becoming more frequent. It is unknown if this will continue or even worsen in future. Therefore, further action is being taken to provide safe, resilient and sustainable access to Argyll and Bute.

Transport Scotland is now taking forward the project development work needed to deliver an alternative route to the existing A83, in parallel with the second Strategic Transport Projects Review which is underway.

Inevitably, new roads come with associated impacts for those living and working alongside them. It is important that we follow the correct statutory process to ensure a fair and transparent assessment of options and impacts on local residents and communities.

In particular, part of the area’s intrinsic value is the outstanding landscape we will be working in. Developing a resilient and sustainable route that works in harmony with its surroundings and continues to support the associated tourism economy which is so important to the area is essential.

Transport Scotland is committed to placing public engagement and meaningful dialogue with directly affected communities and other stakeholders at the heart of the development and delivery of our plans for improving the route.

We want to ensure that communities have the opportunity to comment on the proposals for the proposed project at every stage in the process.

We recognise that the timescales for an alternative to the current route are frustrating for the local community. However, given our considerable experience in developing other rural routes such as the A9 and the A96, it would be misleading to pretend otherwise. In recognition of the pressures that the current situation brings to local communities and businesses, we are committed to progressing substantial shorter term investment in the existing A83 as part of a two-phased approach.

This work underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to continued work with key stakeholders to ensure that Argyll & Bute remains open for business.

This web page explains the process that we will follow and how stakeholders and the public will have the opportunity to be involved. The initial eleven route corridors which are under consideration are available to view.

The challenges

Transport Scotland will work with key agencies, local authorities and local communities to address the challenges, which include:

  • working in challenging landscapes
  • construction of new major structures
  • managing the impact on the many environmental designations in the area and safeguarding the outstanding landscape
  • improving access to tourist and recreational sites
  • minimising impact of construction on road users and local communities.

Stages of necessary development work

As work on the programme progresses, Transport Scotland will ensure that arrangements for participation by stakeholders and members of the public are inclusive, open and transparent. We will encourage a wide range of participants to get involved and provide their comments and feedback.

All proposals are developed following the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) as used on all major infrastructure projects.

Planning permissions will be obtained through the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.

Stage 1 (Strategic Assessment)

  • Strategic planning and appraisal of transport interventions for Argyll is being progressed through the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) which follows the publication of the National Transport Strategy in February 2020
  • STPR2 is underway and for this project we will work in parallel with the STPR2 process, which will be the strategic business case for transport investment in Scotland for the next twenty years
  • Eleven route corridors have been generated through the STPR2 process.  This process included stakeholder engagement about problems and opportunities, both regionally and nationally, and included options workshops 
  • Read more information on STPR2, including key publications such as the Argyll & Bute STPR2 Initial Appraisal: Case for Change
  • The Case for Change for Argyll & Bute evidenced the disruption impacts and resilience concerns relating to the trunk road network in Argyll, particularly the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful
  • Transport Scotland has appointed a project team from Jacobs Aecom to assist in the further development and appraisal of options for the A83 within Argyll. The team will carry out a strategic environmental assessment supported by associated preliminary engineering work
  • The outcome will be identification of a preferred route corridor in March 2021. Opportunities for stakeholder and public comment and feedback will be provided throughout the design and development process as new information becomes available and/or local knowledge is required
  • Sifting assessment work will now start on these eleven corridors and we are inviting local feedback on any key issues or constraints that would inform that process.
  • This stage will also include further evidence gathering to assist the design development process, such as bespoke topographical (landscape physical features) and environmental surveys, traffic and business surveys.

Stage 2 (Route Options Assessment)

  • Development and assessment of route options within the preferred corridor
  • This includes an engineering and environmental assessment of the potential impacts of each option which will inform the route choice
  • During this stage, the options will be made available for consultation
  • Following this assessment and consultation, the preferred option is then selected and taken forward to the detailed stage.

Stage 3 (Design and Assessment of Preferred Option)

  • Detailed assessment and definition of the preferred option
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment Report is prepared, and the land required for the project is also identified.

Statutory Process (Publication of Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and Orders)

  • The draft Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), which defines the extent of the proposed land required to deliver the project, the draft Roads Orders, which define the line of the proposed infrastructure, and the EIAR are published
  • Any statutory objections, which are lodged during the defined period but remain unresolved, are then considered at a Public Local Inquiry (PLI)
  • If the objections are upheld following the PLI, the project may have to be amended and taken through the statutory process again
  • If the objections are resolved or dismissed, then the draft Orders are finalised and made
  • Following the publication of the Made Orders, there is a legal challenge period. After this point the legal permissions have been obtained and the preferred option can proceed with the necessary acquisition of land.

Procurement (Tender process to appoint a works contractor)

  • Prior Information Notices (PIN) are issued and Contract Notices follow - inviting suppliers to express an interest in the procurement
  • Pre-Qualification process is used to shortlist suppliers that will be invited to tender
  • An Invitation to Tender (ITT) is issued to the shortlist of suppliers. The tenders are evaluated by Transport Scotland, a supplier is selected, and the contract is awarded. The preferred option can then move to the construction phase.

Public engagement and consultation

Transport Scotland takes public engagement seriously - it's a vital part of our work as we develop our plans. We will consult with a wide range of parties including agencies, local communities, road users and the general public. Our recently published story map virtual exhibition sets out how we have, and may engage, in a virtual sense through the early stages of this project, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

Please use the table below to find out how we will consult the public during the course of the project.

Stage Level of detail Level of feedback requested
Strategic Assessment Baseline conditions
Environmental constraints
Broad range of potential options to be considered as part of more detailed design

A better understanding of the local conditions

Feedback on sifting of options

DMRB Stage 2 Short list of corridor options
Outline of design details and environmental assessment
Preferred option and any amendments to design details
DMRB Stage 3 draft Orders Publication Preferred option and EIAR
Extent of Compulsory Purchase Order
Where scheme is unacceptable -Representation to EIAR and objection to draft Orders

 

Key stages during the design and development process

Design Manual for Roads and Bridges Process - Access to Argyll and Bute (A83)

Diagram of DMRB Process for A83 Access to Argyll and Bute. Repeats text shown on web page.

DMRB Stage 1 - Strategic assessment

  • Work underway around preliminary engineering of options and strategic environmental assessment

DMRB Stage 2 - Route option assessment

  • To begin in 2021 following the identification of a preferred corridor

DMRB Stage 3 - Design and assessment of preferred option

Statutory Process

  • Publication of Environmental Impact Assessment Report, draft Road Orders and Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO)

Procurement

  • Tender process to appoint works contractor

Construction

What happens next

We are asking for comments on the 11 options by Friday 30 October.

The feedback received will inform the progression of Stage 1 data collection, assessment of corridors and sifting work and we will provide an update on that work as it progresses.

We will then look to make recommendations for a preferred route corridor with alignment options in Spring 2021.