Thank you for your feedback on Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) corridor route options.
Public consultation on the 11 corridor route options took place between 23 September and 30 October 2020. This initial consultation is now closed and we would sincerely like to thank all those who participated in the consultation and shared their views. During the five week consultation we received in excess of 650 responses. These responses highlight a range of issues and provide valuable information for the project team to consider as design and assessment work progresses.
We plan to publish a report on the consultation findings once everything has been considered, however, in the meantime, the following provides a brief summary of the emerging issues and themes that respondents have fed back to us.
Emerging Issues and Themes
Feedback from respondents noted the following issues and themes:
- A long-term solution is needed – the chosen option should take account of future needs and changes.
- The scheme must be developed quickly.
- Reliability and resilience - impact of disruption and delay caused by closures on residents, businesses and through traffic.
- Road safety issues due to landslides, flooding and congestion.
- Poor connectivity for communities.
- Support the local economy.
- Provide an effective alternative to ferry crossings.
- Minimise environmental impact of the proposed scheme and make use of existing routes.
- Cost and value for money of proposed scheme should be taken into account.
- The scheme should consider or include safe and accessible routes for walking, cycling and horse riding – including tourism and other recreational use.
- The scheme should take account of climate change, in terms of modal shift as well as mitigation and adaptation measures.
- The scheme should allow for a phased development - enabling current issues to be addressed quickly with minimal disruption to road users, while allowing for further improvements in the future.
- The existing A83 should be maintained and kept open during construction – or a replacement route provided to minimise disruption while works are taking place.
- Prioritise addressing the issues at the Rest and be Thankful.
- Views of local communities should be considered.
Whilst not explicitly asked in the consultation, many respondents took the opportunity to state their preference on which corridor or corridors should be taken forward for further consideration. We are currently reviewing these comments on corridor preference and the findings will be included in the subsequent report.
Method of Consultation
The consultation also sought feedback on the virtual sharing of information on this project, and encouraged consultees to suggest any alternatives:
Brief summary of the responses on virtual sharing
- Respondents stated that the arrangements for sharing information and contacting the project team were good or adequate, and the consultation arrangements were suitable / appropriate in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others suggested phone or email continue to be used as methods of communication for the project (as proposed).
- Respondents also commented that the visual materials (i.e. the website and maps or graphics) were useful.
- Comments received noted that the online consultation may not be accessible to anyone who was not computer literate or who lacked internet access.
- Indications were that more engagement was needed – particularly with local communities who would be most affected. This included comments that there had been a lack of engagement so far, or that there was a lack of local awareness of the consultation. It was suggested that local communities should be included and prioritised in future engagement.
Respondents' feedback on alternative methods for future engagement on the scheme and suggestions for methods to be used included:
- online engagement tools (e.g. Skype, Zoom etc)
- social media (Facebook and Twitter)
- a project website with regular updates
- face to face engagement events
- updates on the scheme and future engagement in local press.
The feedback we have received will help inform our assessments of the corridor options as we work towards recommending the preferred corridor for the project by Spring 2021.
Public engagement is extremely important to us - it's a vital part of our work as we develop our plans. We'll be keeping you informed of progress as part of our commitment to ongoing and considered engagement. Project updates, news and details will be posted in a new dedicated Story Map section on our website which will be launched soon, and there will be further opportunities to share your feedback as the design work is further progressed.
We look forward to your continuing interest and engagement in this project.
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.
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.