Overview

The Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) project is looking at developing a resilient and sustainable route to Argyll and Bute, and a long-term solution to the challenges at the Rest and Be Thankful, which has been the site of a number of landslides.

Recommended preferred route corridor

From an initial public consultation on 11 route corridor options that was held in Autumn 2020 and the multi-disciplinary work that has subsequently taken place to assess these route corridor options, a recommended preferred route corridor has now been announced. This is Route Corridor 1 through Glen Croe.

Route options

Details of five possible route options through the preferred route corridor have also been announced. These have been developed from further assessment undertaken by the project team. These possible route options have each been designated a colour:

  • brown
  • yellow
  • green
  • purple
  • pink

The brown option closely follows the alignment of the current A83 Trunk Road, while the yellow, green, purple and pink options are possible alternative routes through Glen Croe. These possible route options may include the construction of new lengths of carriageway, viaducts, tunnels and debris flow shelters as well as considering further landslide mitigation works.

We are now inviting your initial views on the recommended preferred corridor and the possible route options within the corridor.

We would be grateful if any initial comments you wish to make on the preferred route corridor and possible route options could be included on the feedback form and returned to us on or before Friday 28 May 2021.  

Whilst the consultation is underway, progress on the project does not slow down. Work to further develop these possible route options within the recommended preferred route corridor will continue throughout spring and summer 2021. During this period we will be collating further information, which will include preparing and undertaking bespoke topographical (landscape, physical features) and environmental surveys, ground investigation, traffic and business surveys.

A83 Storymap and Initial Consultation Report

Public engagement is extremely important to us – it’s a vital part of our work as we develop our plans. To help us keep you informed of the project’s progress, and to give you an insight into the work that goes into a complex engineering and major infrastructure project such as this, we have a dedicated storymap to share more information with you. We hope you enjoy reading this and look forward to your continuing interest in this project.

We have also published the findings from our initial consultation on the 11 route corridor options that was held between 23 September and 30 October 2020. During this five-week period we received over 650 responses. These highlighted a range of issues and provided valuable information for the project team to consider as design and assessment work got underway.

We would like to thank everyone who responded to the consultation.

Preliminary Assessment Work

We have carried out preliminary assessment work to develop a robust understanding of the existing conditions within each of the 11 route corridor options previously identified and the implementability considerations, or how feasible, affordable and publicly acceptable they would be to develop. This included a high-level environmental assessment. This was the first step in the work that was required to identify a preferred route corridor option.

We also assessed four additional route corridors, which are located in proximity to Glen Croe, that were identified in feedback received from the public during the consultation held in September and October 2020. However, the assessment of these additional route corridors confirmed that they are less advantageous than the recommended preferred route corridor through Glen Croe.

The output of this early assessment work is documented in the Preliminary Assessment Report. This report includes details on each of the route corridors, including the four additional route corridors received during our public consultation, and how they have been assessed.

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)

We have almost completed this Stage 1 of the project.

  • 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 is the identification of a preferred route corridor, as announced 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.
  • Preliminary assessment work has been undertaken on these 11 route corridors and we invited local feedback on any key issues or constraints that would inform that process.
  • Planning is also underway to extend the baseline data within the recommended preferred route corridor to assist the future design development process, which may include bespoke topographical (landscape, physical features) and environmental surveys, traffic and business surveys.

Stage 2 (Route Options Assessment)

We are about to move on to this Stage 2 of the project.

  • 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.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

To assess the likely significant effects (both positive and negative) of this project on the environment, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has been undertaken. An SEA assesses the impact of a public plan, programme or strategy on the environment.

The SEA team has worked closely with the engineering team throughout the project and this has helped develop viable mitigation and enhancement measures for the next project stages.

SEA Scoping Report

The first stage of the SEA was to produce a Scoping Report, to provide information on the environmental topics that were to be included in the SEA, as well as the baseline data, relevant plans, policies and proposed methodology that would be used. A copy of this report can be found here (link to the ‘SEA Scoping Report’ page). The key environmental topics that were considered in the scoping baseline are as follows:

  • Biodiversity, fauna and flora
  • Population and human health
  • Water
  • Soil
  • Air quality
  • Climatic factors
  • Material assets
  • Cultural heritage
  • Landscape and visual amenity

SEA Environmental Report

The Environmental Report stage is where the likely significant effects of this project are assessed. The assessment was undertaken for all the SEA topics identified at the scoping stage. Mitigation, enhancement and monitoring measures for all likely significant effects are documented in the report. A copy of the

If you have any views on this report, please let us know by emailing A83@jacobs.com or by phoning 07999 948 736 by 8 July 2021.

Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Stage 1 Assessment Report

The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Stage 1 Assessment Report follows on from the Preliminary Assessment and describes the more detailed assessment of the preferred route corridor. The report provides:

  • A description of the existing conditions within the preferred route corridor, and for specific criteria the wider A83 Trunk Road
  • A description of the five possible route options identified within the preferred route corridor
  • An engineering assessment, of the five possible route options within the preferred route corridor
  • A summary of findings of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
  • A traffic and economics assessment of the five possible route options within the preferred route corridor
  • A description of risks present

Read the DMRB Stage 1 Assessment Report

Public engagement and consultation

We take public engagement very seriously and engage with a wide range of parties, including agencies, local communities, road users and the general public.

We'll be updating our project storymap to share information about the work being undertaken as part of the project development and there'll also be further opportunities to share your feedback as design work continues.

If you have any questions in the meantime, you can find some additional information in our Frequently asked questions. They'll be updated during the project.

The table below shows how we'll consult with the public during 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 the 11 route corridor 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

We have nearly completed this stage of the project.

  • Work nearing completion on preliminary engineering of options and strategic environmental assessment.

DMRB Stage 2 - Route option assessment

We are about to move on to this stage of the project.

  • 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

Following the first Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) public consultation, the feedback received helped to inform our assessment of the 11 route corridor options that were being considered.

A recommendation for a preferred route corridor has now been announced, together with details of five possible route options within that route corridor.

We are now planning to gather further information within the recommended preferred route corridor to assist the future design development process. This may include bespoke topographical (landscape, physical features) and environmental surveys, traffic and business surveys.

We are seeking further feedback from stakeholders and the public on the recommended preferred route corridor and the possible route options as well as their views on the Strategic Environmental Assessment report, which will be published in April 2021. These findings are expected to be reported in the Summer, to inform further design development and future assessment stages.

Frequently asked questions

Answers to frequently asked questions on this project are shown below. If you can't find an answer to your question, you can contact our project team:

  • by email at A83@jacobs.com
  • or by phone on 07999 948 736, Monday to Friday between 9 am - 5pm.

Background

The A83 Trunk road is a major 98 mile/158 km road in the south of Argyll and Bute in the Scottish Highlands. The A83 is a vital artery route through Argyll, running from Tarbet on the western shore of Loch Lomond, where it splits from the A82, to Campbeltown at the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsular. The highest point along the route is known as the Rest and Be Thankful, separating Glen Kinglas and Glen Croe.

The section of the A83 between Ardgartan and the Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint car park has a history of hillside instability, in particular the slopes above the Rest and Be Thankful. Following several landslides in August 2020, one of which was the largest recorded in the area in the last 20 years, Jacobs Aecom were commissioned by Transport Scotland to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and provide preliminary engineering support services (PES) of route corridor options for access to Argyll and Bute including the A83 Trunk Road.

A preliminary assessment of all 11 route corridor options for improving access to Argyll and Bute and identifying a long-term solution to the ongoing problems at the Rest and Be Thankful has been completed and a Preliminary Assessment Report published.

Following this report and the over 650 responses to the public consultation on the scheme, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity announced a preferred route corridor on 18 March 2021 – this is Route Corridor 1 through Glen Croe.

We are progressing substantial short-term investment in the existing A83 including installing a debris cage and new culvert, construction of an additional catchpit, debris fencing and flood mitigation measures at the Croe Water crossing.

In addition, the Cabinet Secretary announced that Transport Scotland is progressing work to look at a medium term resilient route through Glen Croe to include consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish Ministers. Depending on the statutory consents required, that work will seek to develop a shovel ready proposal within 18 months.

Key Messages

The project’s key messages and the sub-messages that support them:

We are committed to developing long-term resilient and sustainable connectivity to Argyll and Bute

  • Need to mitigate disruption to road users and the economic impact to the area from road closures along the A83 Trunk Road - a lifeline route to Argyll - particularly at the Rest and Be Thankful.
  • Have launched project to deliver an alternative route to the existing A83 in parallel with the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).
  • STPR2 takes a national overview of the transport network with a focus on regions and will help delivery the vision, priorities and outcomes set out in the National Transport Strategy.
  • In parallel with developing a long-term resilient solution both short-term and medium-term proposals are being developed.

We are committed to addressing the challenges at the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83

  • The slopes above the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83 have a history of hillside instability.
  • It is one of the places in Scotland with the highest risk of landslides and debris flow hazards.
  • Recently it appears that severe weather (heavy and prolonged rainfall) and the associated landslips are becoming more frequent.
  • A diversion route along the Old Military Road has been in operation since 2013, but has also been affected by landslides and closed as a result recently.
  • If landslides close the A83 and Old Military Road, the standard diversion route along the A82, A85 and A819 is up to approximately 60 miles – we understand the disruption and frustration this causes.

Eleven route corridor options were considered to address issues at the Rest and Be Thankful and develop long-term resilient access to Argyll and Bute

  • The route corridor options included a route corridor through Glen Croe where the existing A83 passes, but also other route corridors reflecting that there may be benefits from a different access to Argyll and Bute.
  • We invited feedback on these options from stakeholders and the public via an online consultation launched on 23 September and running until 30 October 2020.
  • Aim of the online consultation was to gather local information to inform the development of new access to Argyll and Bute as a long term sustainable and resilient alternative to the A83 Rest and Be Thankful.
  • We also invited views on any other options they should be considering.

A preferred route corridor was announced 18 March 2021, and a consultation on the recommendation and possible route options

  • The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity announced on 23 September 2020 that Transport Scotland would be taking forward the development and assessment work required to deliver an alternative infrastructure solution to the existing A83.
  • He announced the preferred route corridor and his commitment to progressing substantial shorter-term and medium-term investment in the existing A83 and Old Military Road diversion in tandem with work to identify a permanent solution as part of a two-phased approach.
  • The work involves a Strategic Environmental Assessment and preliminary engineering and traffic assessments, with the SEA containing the preferred route recommendation issued for consultation in Spring 2021.
  • In recognition of the importance of pushing forward with this work, we have also started to consider five possible route options within the preferred route corridor.

The project will engage with directly affected communities and businesses

  • We launched a new project website on 23 September 2020 for the design work and where details of the 11 route corridor options could be viewed.
  • Invited feedback from stakeholders and the public on these options and any others they wish to be considered.
  • Input from stakeholders is vital to help gather the type of local background information required.
  • As part of the ongoing public engagement, we have launched an interactive Storymap which will be developed and added to as the design moves forward and this will keep local communities and road users informed of progress on the project.
  • The Storymap launches a second public consultation on the preferred route corridor assessment and the possible route options within that corridor. This consultation runs until 28 May 2021.

Questions & Answers

Q1 What are the current issues facing the A83 Trunk Road?

A1 The A83 is the primary route to Argyll. The highest point along the route is known as the Rest and Be Thankful, separating Glen Kinglas and Glen Croe.

The section of the A83 between Ardgartan and the Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint car park has a history of hillside instability, in particular the slopes above the Rest and Be Thankful. If landslides close the A83, the standard diversion route along the A82, A85 and A819 is up to approximately 60 miles. This causes disruption for road users and has an economic impact on the area.

Recently it appears that severe weather (heavy and prolonged rainfall) and the associated landslips are becoming more frequent.

There are other locations on the A83 where there have been landslides including Glen Kinglas and Cairndow, and other sections of the route also have a high landslide risk.

Other problems on the A83 include sections of narrow road width, sections of poor road alignment and provision for pedestrians. Sections of the A83 also have a high accident rate, with the proportion of serious accidents above the national average rate for Killed and Seriously Injured severity.

Q2 What are the current issues with the wider transport network?

A2 The lack of a good standard of transport infrastructure and public transport provision is considered to be constraining growth in the region.

Travel times to/ from, within and through Argyll and Bute under normal conditions (i.e. with no disruption due to accident or incidents) can be long and/ or unreliable.

The long journey times are a function of the region’s geography, the quality of its transport infrastructure and the reliability of public transport services. There is potential for conditions on the transport network (such as on roads and/ or ferries) to worsen given the increase in slower moving traffic generated by the anticipated growth in key sectors including marine sciences, forestry, tourism, aquaculture, and the wider food and drink sector.

Q3 What work has been undertaken so far?

A3 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, to help keep Argyll open for business by reducing the impact of landslides on the A83.

Subsequent landslide measures have seen the opening of the alternative military road, installation of nets, catchpits and improvements to drainage at this location. Construction of an additional roadside catchpit at the Rest and Be Thankful began in September 2020 and is due to be complete in April 2021. This £1.2 million scheme 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 current four catchpits.

We are also progressing a 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 been concluded and Transport Scotland is working with Forestry & Land Scotland to reintroduce the required local provenance native vegetation on the hillside.

Q4 Why is this project going ahead now? Is it because of the Scottish Parliament elections scheduled to be held in May 2021?

A4 The mitigation works to the existing route form a substantial investment to help reduce the risk of road closures. However, more recently it appears that severe weather and associated landslips are becoming more frequent. Following several landslides in August 2020, one of which was the largest recorded in the area, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity asked Transport Scotland to commence work on the development of new access to Argyll and Bute as a long term sustainable and resilient alternative to the A83 Rest and be Thankful.

Work to address the challenges at the Rest and Be Thankful is continuing and the development of a preferred route corridor option to access Argyll and Bute is not in any way related to the timing of the Scottish Parliament election.

Q5 How long will the process of getting a long-term solution to the problems at the Rest and Be Thankful take – so much work and money has already been spent on this and road closures still happen too often?

A5 A preferred route corridor was announced in March 2021. Following this, designs will be progressed, and as with other projects to improve the trunk road network, there will be a need to complete the necessary environmental assessments and statutory process to allow land to be acquired and the project constructed.

We recognise that the timescales for developing an alternative to the current route and finding a long-term solution to the challenges created by the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83 are frustrating for the local community. However, it is important that the correct statutory process is followed to ensure a fair and transparent assessment of options and impacts on local communities and road users. We remain committed to progressing substantial shorter-term investment in the existing A83 in tandem with the work to identify a permanent solution.

In addition, the Cabinet Secretary announced that Transport Scotland is progressing work to look at a medium-term resilient route through Glen Croe to include consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish Ministers. Depending on the statutory consents required, that work will seek to develop a shovel ready proposal within 18 months.

Q6 I’ve heard that it could be up to 10 years before we have a permanent resilient solution in operation – this is too long so what’s being done in the meantime?

A6 We can understand the frustration felt by the local community caused by disruption along the A83 and in particular at the Rest and Be Thankful.

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, to help keep Argyll open for business by reducing the impact of landslides on the road.

Subsequent landslide measures have seen the opening of the alternative military road, installation of nets, catchpits and improvements to drainage at this location. Construction of an additional roadside catchpit at the Rest and Be Thankful began in September 2020 and is due to be complete in April 2021. This £1.2 million scheme 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 current four catchpits.

Engineers are also exploring options for future landslide mitigation works. The recent events demonstrate the need for continuing with these mitigation measures to help ensure continuity of access for the region and to reinforce the message that Argyll remains open for business. On 3 December 2020 Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson announced that construction was to start immediately on a new 175m landslide barrier adjacent to the local diversion to help bolster the resilience of this route. Work was completed in January 2021 during which time the Old Military Road local diversion will remain in operation when

weather and conditions permit. More information can be found on the BEAR Scotland website.

We are also progressing a 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 been concluded and Transport Scotland is working with Forestry & Land Scotland to reintroduce the required local provenance native vegetation on the hillside.

Work is progressing to look at a medium-term resilient route through Glen Croe to include consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish Ministers. This will look at improving the resilience of the temporary diversion route. Depending on the statutory consents required, that work will seek to develop a shovel ready proposal within 18 months.

Q7 Why were so many corridors considered? Isn’t the problem at the Rest and be Thankful?

A7 The most significant issue in terms of current incidents is at the Rest and be Thankful. However, work ongoing as part of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review and feedback from stakeholders as part of that work is that there are other transport issues in Argyll and Bute which affect economic growth. In view of this the Cabinet Secretary confirmed he has asked Transport Scotland to look at options which provide an alternative solution, which increases the resilience of links to Argyll and Bute and increases confidence of connectivity for those living and investing in this part of Scotland, and to accelerate work to consider alternative infrastructure options for the A83. The route corridor options considered therefore included a corridor through Glen Croe where the existing A83 passes, but also other route corridors reflecting that there may be benefits from a different access to Argyll and Bute.

Q8 Why was Corridor 1 through Glen Croe chosen as the preferred route corridor?

A8 The preferred route corridor is more cost effective and quicker to deliver, having significantly less environmental constraints. In addition, while structural solutions such as shelters, tunnels or viaducts may be necessary in this corridor, these would be less technically challenging than the fixed links in other route corridor options. Assessment Summary Tables for each of the route corridors can be found in the Preliminary Assessment Report on our website.

Q9 Does Transport Scotland already have a preferred route option in mind?

A9 No. We have accelerated the consideration of possible route options within the preferred corridor in order to inform the more detailed assessment stages of the work. These options are based on work previously undertaken in 2012 and feedback from our last engagement. No formal assessment work has been undertaken at this stage and they are intended to illustrate the type of things we will be looking at to meet the challenges in this corridor. From the information on the Storymap you can see that all options have technical construction challenges to resolve and we will be mindful of the impact of that on programme delivery, and we will place particular weight on the timescales that options may take to deliver as we move into the assessment stage.

Q10 Is a tunnel at Glen Croe being considered? We have heard that this was discounted.

A10 A tunnel option was considered previously as part of the A83 route study undertaken in 2013 and discounted at that time in favour of the programme of measures that continue to be implemented. Due to the significance of recent landslide events and disruption, and the need to consider alternative infrastructure options for the A83, the work will include reconsidering a tunnel option within Corridor 1 at Glen Croe, in addition to a range of other potential options. Five possible route options within the preferred corridor have also been published and can be viewed on the Storymap site and the Transport Scotland website.

Q11 There was no detailed information or costings given for the 11 route corridor options – why not as surely these are key considerations?

A11 Our aim was to start early engagement on the different route corridor options to gather feedback and collect data for each of them as well as highlighting any local constraints and issues that stakeholders and the public felt we should consider as part of our initial assessment work.

Preliminary assessment work has now been undertaken and cost ranges for each route corridor can be found in the Preliminary Assessment Report.

Q12 How much will the project cost?

A12 It’s too early to say at this stage and this will be looked at as part of the route option assessment work. Preliminary assessment work estimates costs for this route corridor to range from £268M to £860M.

Q13 How will the project be funded?

A13 We will consider funding options as we progress through the project development. There are a range of options available for funding road projects depending on the cost of the project and we will consider the funding option that is most appropriate.

Q14 How will the options be assessed?

A14 The work is being undertaken in accordance with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) which is the UK-wide guidance used to develop and assess trunk road projects. A Strategic Environmental Assessment is also being undertaken. The assessment work will consider a range of environmental, engineering, traffic and economic factors and also look at how the different corridors perform against the national and regional objectives being developed as part of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review.

Q15 What is the programme for the next stages of the assessment work?

A15 We will appoint design consultants in the summer to take forward the design and procurement stages of the project. In the meantime our current supplier Jacobs-Aecom will push forward early baseline survey and assessment work so there will be no let-up in the pace of progress. Once the new consultants are in place we will immediately work with them to try and make further time savings on the process and will then publish the key milestones in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) and statutory process stages.

Q16 What are the next steps for the project?

A16 Now that a preferred route corridor has been selected, route option designs will be progressed within the preferred corridor and a preferred option selected following the process set out in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges – DMRB Stage 2 Route Option Assessment.

Q17 How can local people/ businesses/ community representatives be involved in the development of a preferred route option?

A17 We are committed to placing public engagement and meaningful dialogue with affected communities and other stakeholders at the heart of the development and delivery of plans for improving the route.

As work on the project progresses, we will ensure that arrangements for participation by stakeholders and the public are inclusive, open and transparent. We will also encourage a wide range of participants to get involved and provide their comments and feedback at key stages.

A public consultation on the preferred route corridor assessment and the possible route options within that corridor is currently underway and runs until 28 May 2021.

Q18 How will environmental impacts be mitigated?

A18 We are currently undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the route-wide constraints, issues and opportunities for the project. SEA outputs will inform the development of route options within corridor, as well as detailed design and a project level Environmental Impact Assessment which will be undertaken as part of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) assessment process. Activities undertaken as part of the SEA include:

  • Collation of constraints around along the A83 and consideration of significant environmental issues and risks
  • Habitats Regulations Appraisal to consider effects on SAC, SPA and Ramsar sites
  • Assessment of flood risks
  • Engagement with statutory bodies and other interested stakeholders
  • Development of strategic environmental principles and mitigation guidance for later design stages

The SEA Environmental Report identifies the likely significant effects on the environment, including on issues such as biodiversity; population; human health; fauna; flora; soil; water; air; climatic factors; material assets; cultural heritage, including architectural and archaeological heritage; landscape; and the inter-relationship between these issues.

A description of mitigation and monitoring measures envisaged, focusing on any significant environmental effects will be identified. A draft monitoring framework, including indicators, will be provided in the Environmental Report. These would be finalised in a Post Adoption Statement, which would guide mitigation throughout the development of the scheme.

As the scheme progresses through the DMRB process, environmental assessment will be ongoing and influential. The results of the Stage 2 environmental assessment will feed into the route option selection process, and any identified potential significant impacts in relation to topics such as noise, biodiversity landscape and visual, the water environment, cultural heritage and impacts on agricultural land, would be taken forward for more detailed consideration within the final stage of the assessment process, the DMRB Stage 3 assessment.

During Stage 3 scheme development, environmental assessment and engineering design will be undertaken in parallel to provide interaction between prevailing environmental standards and the objectives of the development and to allow effective consideration of environmental issues throughout the design process. Where possible and reasonably practicable, potential adverse environmental impacts of the scheme during both construction and operation would be prevented through this iterative approach to the design process, rather than relying on measures to mitigate potential impacts. Where complete prevention of potential impacts are not feasible, measures will be set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report to reduce potentially significant effects.

Q19 How is the Scottish Government addressing climate change in relation to roads?

A19 The Scottish Government is committed to tackling climate change. It is fully acknowledged that the transport sector is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and that reducing emissions from all parts of the transport system is essential for meeting our climate change ambitions. The National Transport Strategy (NTS), which sets the direction for transport over the next 20 years, makes clear that our transport system will help deliver our ambitious climate change agenda and net-zero 2045 emissions target. In addition, the update to the Climate Change Plan published in December 2020 shows a commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030. To enable this, future transport investment decisions will be made in context of the Sustainable Travel Hierarchy which prioritises walking, cycling and public and shared transport options in preference to single occupancy private car.

The Scottish Government is also phasing out the need to purchase a petrol or diesel- powered car or van by 2030, a full five years ahead of the UK. A sustainable, low carbon transport network brings many additional benefits to communities and businesses. The Scottish Government is committed to maximising these co-benefits which means that individual transport projects should not be assessed in isolation but in combination with other projects and Scottish Government policies.

The Scottish Government needs to balance the extensive changes required to meet a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions with its duty to ensure that Scotland has a high quality and resilient transport system that meets the needs of all our population. As part of its current programme of infrastructure improvements the Scottish Government is committed to delivering sustainable and resilient strategic road connection into Argyll and Bute as an alternative to the current A83 at the Rest and be Thankful.

Q20 How is the environmental impact of a road scheme minimised?

A20 As part of the design and assessment of projects an Environmental Statement is published once a preferred route is identified. Once published, the Environmental Statement for this project will be available from the project landing page.

The environmental impact assessment of each project gives consideration to potential impacts associated with increased traffic, consumption of material resources, and the production and management of waste during construction of the proposed scheme.

By applying key material and waste management principles, such as the waste management hierarchy, the impacts on natural resources and need for permanent disposal of wastes will be reduced. In particular, this will be achieved by re-using existing soils and infrastructure where possible, taking into consideration the environmental impacts of products during their procurement. Proposed mitigation measures developed as part of each scheme minimise materials use, maximise re-use and recycling of wastes and ensure all materials and waste are handled according to the regulatory requirements. These will be implemented through several plans addressing different aspects of construction site management, including a Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) and a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP).

Q21 How will provisions for cyclists be considered?

A21 In line with the Scottish Government’s vision to promote active travel in A Long-Term Vision for Active Travel 2030, the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and the Trunk Road Cycling Initiative, suitable provision for all road users, including cyclists, is a large part of our major trunk roads projects.

Q22 What’s the status of improvements to the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan?

A22 The detailed development and assessment of the preferred option is well underway, which includes giving detailed consideration to mitigating disruption to road users during construction of this extremely challenging scheme. This preparation work is essential to ensure a robust scheme is produced in line with existing legislation, which considers the needs of individuals, road users and the local community.