A83 Taskforce – Meeting Minutes – 3 March 2022


List of Attendees

  • Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth MSP (JG) – Scottish Parliament
  • Joanna Matthews (JM) – Private Secretary to Minister for Transport
  • Lewis Wade (LW) – Assistant Private Secretary to Minister for Transport
  • Thomas Meikle – Deputy Private Secretary to Minister for Transport
  • Kier Low (KL) – for Jenni Minto MSP – Scottish Parliament
  • Cllr Alan Reid (AR) – Argyll & Bute Council
  • Cllr Dougie Philand (DP) – Argyll & Bute Council
  • Cllr Robin Currie (RC) – Argyll & Bute Council
  • Lawrence Shackman (LS) – Transport Scotland
  • Stewart Leggett (StL) – Transport Scotland
  • Andy Anderson (AA) – Transport Scotland
  • Gordon Ramsay (GR) – Transport Scotland
  • Stuart Moffat (SM) – Transport Scotland
  • James Porteous (JP) – Transport Scotland
  • Tanja Waaser (TS) – Transport Scotland
  • George Fiddes (GF) – Transport Scotland
  • Scott Lees (ScL) – Transport Scotland
  • Sam McNaughton (SMcN) – Transport Scotland
  • Martin Polland (MP) – Transport Scotland
  • David Robertson (DR) - Jacobs
  • Martin Stewart (MS) - Aecom
  • Eddie Ross (ER) – BEAR Scotland
  • Euan Scott (ES) – BEAR Scotland
  • Mike Baxter (MB) – BEAR Scotland
  • Gavin Dick (GD) – Invararay Jail
  • Gordon Ross (GRo) – Western Ferries
  • Iain Catterwell (IC) – Argyll Timber Transport Group
  • Iain MacInnes (IMacI) – Lochgoil Community Council
  • John Gurr (JGu) – A83 Campaign Group Chair
  • John Hair (JH) – Forestry and Land Scotland
  • Kirsty Robb (KR) – Ridings Sawmills
  • Lucy Sumsion (LSi) – NFU Scotland
  • Niall McLean (NMcL) – Geo-rope
  • Nicholas Sobey (NS) – Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Claire McMurchy (CMcM) – Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Cathy Craig (CC) – Wild About Argyll
  • Derek Manson (DM)
  • Jane MacLeod – Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce
  • Kenny MacLeod – MacLeod Construction Ltd


  • Jackie Baillie MSP – Scottish Parliament
  • Ryan Huchison - Aecom

Opening Remarks / Introduction

LS opened the meeting by welcoming everyone to the meeting and introduced himself as chairman and then invited the Minister for Transport to speak. JG introduced herself and emphasised the importance of the A83 Rest and be Thankful project. LS followed up by reaffirming the TS commitment of keeping Argyll and Bute open for business.

Previous Meeting Minutes

LS invited comments on the minutes of the previous meeting and there being no comments offered confirmed the minutes of that meeting were now final. LS advised that actions arising from the previous minutes would be discussed at the end of the meeting.

LS outlined the format of meeting, with presentations from BEAR, then Jacobs Aecom, followed by a Q&A session, noting previous requests for a longer open discussion at Taskforce meetings.

LS invited ER from BEAR to present on the ongoing work in the A83 corridor.

BEAR Presentation

ER introduced himself, then gave a presentation providing an overview of the ongoing remedial works currently being carried out on the A83 landslip area, and provided an update on works implemented since the last Taskforce meeting. The power point presentation by ER is appended to these minutes

ER closed by saying he would welcome any questions during Q&A session at the end of the meeting and handed back to LS.

LS invited DR and MS from Jacobs/AECOM to present on the design development and progress on the medium and long term solutions since the last Taskforce meeting.

Jacobs / AECOM Presentation

MS first presented an update on the design development for the medium term solution.

This included an overview of the 3 options currently being assessed for a medium term solution. These options include an upgrade of the existing forestry track on the south-western slope, a new two lane road on the south-western slope and possible interventions to the Old Military Road (OMR). A table summarising the costs, journey times and timescales was presented and this is shown below. It was also highlighted that the two options on the south-western slope do not incorporate geohazard (landslides and rock fall) mitigation, as such, there is a risk of these options needing to close due to a landslide. The full power point presentation by Jacobs/AECOM is appended to these minutes.

Medium Term Solution Options Assessment Table

Existing Old Military Road

Approximate wait and journey time: Up to 32 Minutes

Estimated cost: Not applicable

Opens to traffic: Not applicable

Forestry Track Option

Approximate wait and journey time: Up to 49 Minutes

Estimated cost: £21-28 million

Opens to traffic: Autumn 2025

Forestry Track Option with Old Military Road in a loop

Approximate wait and journey time: Up to 25 Minutes Eastbound. Up to 32 Minutes Westbound.

Estimated cost: £21-28 million

Opens to traffic: Autumn 2025

New Two-Way Road

Approximate wait and journey time: 5-8 Minutes

Estimated cost: £85-113 million

Opens to traffic: Autumn 2026

Old Military Road Interventions

Approximate wait and journey time: Up to 22 Minutes

Estimated cost: £24-32 million

Opens to traffic: Summer 2024

DR then gave an update on the ongoing design development work for the long term solution. This included an update on the advantages and disadvantages of each of the 5 possible route options. DR confirmed the information gathered to date will inform more accurate design decisions including for proposed structures such as bridges and tunnels. This information will also be used to inform the DMRB Stage 2 Options Assessment.

DR summarised the recent meetings Transport Scotland have had with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) and confirmed that Norway use a very similar process to the UK in terms of options assessment, statutory process, procurement and construction. A Representative of the NPRA also confirmed that a timescale of 7 to 10 years for a long term solution was reasonable for a project of this scale.

DR then discussed ongoing work and the next steps, including the procurement process to appoint a new consultant, the ongoing Ground Investigation and Seasonal Environmental Studies. DR said he would be pleased to take questions during the Q&A session. The full power point presentation by Jacobs/AECOM is appended to these minutes.

DR concluded his presentation by confirming this information would be uploaded to the online Storymap, however the supplier is currently experiencing technical problems which has caused delays to this being mounted on the TS Web site.


Jacobs Aecom – update online storymap.

Post-meeting note – Updated A83 Storymap is now live as per Gordon Ramsay’s email of 16 March 2022.

Discussion / Q&A

LS confirmed more information will be uploaded to TS website following today’s meeting, and that the NPRA are keen to continue engaging and sharing information and ideas with TS. LS emphasised that TS appreciated the urgency of this project and are working hard to progress matters as quickly as possible.

JGu thanked all for the progress update and was pleased to see talks were ongoing with NPRA.

JGu emphasised the need to move quickly on this project and that this scheme should be considered an emergency project for the Argyll area. JGu noted that environmental surveys that are required for the medium and long term solutions did not appear to have been carried out for the catch pit works currently underway adjacent to the A83 land slip area. JGu stated his preference for a medium term solution which did not require any convoy working and that the medium term solution should be a two lane road. The medium term solution should be completed faster than the dates suggested in the presentations, ideally the medium term solution should be complete by 2024/2025.

LS confirmed Transport Scotland and their consultants are working as fast as possible to get these works progressed in a timeous manner. Appropriate environmental survey work would have been carried out for catch pit construction.

Post-meeting note – Environmental Impact Assessments are required for the ongoing mitigation works and these have been completed.

DP reinforced John Gurr’s comments and again emphasised the need to progress this project as quickly as possible, noting this work has been ongoing since 2012. DP also stated it would have been helpful to receive the power point slide presentations in advance of the meeting.

DP asked if Transport Scotland have indicative costs for the long term solutions?

GR confirmed cost ranges are available in the preliminary assessment tables including on the Transport Scotland website, the cost range for the five possible route options is between £268M and £860M.

LS also confirmed that there will be ongoing operational costs that will need to be considered when assessing options.

AR reiterated the local frustration felt for many years on the slow progress on the project. Any medium term solution should not be a single track road and should not require convoys.

AR asks for clarification on the timeframe – why is a construction start 2 years away for a medium term solution?

DR - If a decision was made in 2022 to progress a two way road, further design work would be needed along with an additional Ground Investigation. Following this, a procurement exercise would be required before a contractor could be appointed to carry out construction work.

JG - asked if there is any way these processes can be expedited to accelerate matters.

LS confirmed Transport Scotland are looking at options, including early contractor involvement, but it is important to take cognisance of the legal responsibilities required for such a project.

JGu – why can a decision on the medium term solution not be made now?

LS – TS has said finalised proposals will be in place by the end of 2022. To support this, further work is needed to consider the options, one aspect being the results of the Preliminary Ground Investigation works which are currently underway. It is the intention to publish the preferred route once it is selected.

RC asked what would happen if the OMR Interventions was the preferred option and these works were ongoing but the OMR was needed for traffic relief due to a landslide on the A83

GR confirmed that such a situation may arise, however, the contractor would be in daily contact with BEAR regarding hillside conditions and the work would ideally be planned in such a way to avoid that situation. For example, key works needed on the OMR would likely be planned during a good weather window when it would be unlikely the OMR would be needed as a diversion route. This is similar to the current situation with the Ground Investigation works where the GI contractor is in daily contact with BEAR. The resilience of the OMR would be improved by these medium term works, however, in a worst case scenario the OMR could still be closed. GR confirmed that the interventions now in place would mean that the OMR is less likely to close if there was a landslide, however, a large landslide may still reach the OMR and if that happened then the longer diversion route would be required.

DR - During construction if a landslide event were to occur, then vehicles may have to use the northern diversion route, however, consideration would be given to any works on the OMR to minimise risk using forecasting and discussions with BEAR.

MS - Most of the OMR interventions are unlikely to require a full closure of the OMR, although some critical works may require this.

ER - Coordination and careful planning can help to negate these risks.

LSi raised concerns regarding signage when the OMR is in use. It would be helpful to have more forewarning when the OMR is in use. Additionally, there have been instances when radio announcements are saying there has been a landslide on the A83 when there is no instance of one. LSi also stated she had heard of near misses at the southern junction access to the OMR from the A83 and is concerned about traffic safety at this location.

ER – BEAR is not aware of any safety issues at that junction and there have been no instances reported, but will investigate further on this and report back to TS. ER was not aware of any communications issues, but encouraged anyone who is aware of erroneous traffic announcements to report this.


BEAR Scotland – Investigate possible amendments to signage at southern OMR junction.

SL confirmed that an erroneous automated tweet had been released, and an internal TS call was held to ensure that this did not happen again.

LSi asked if an update can be provided on the accident that occurred on OMR recently.

ER - This was investigated by police and this was dealt with quickly. Police Scotland confirmed this was an isolated incident.

LSi - Can guidance be given to convoy vehicle drivers to avoid future accidents, there was a concern that the accident was caused by the convoy vehicle travelling too fast?

ER - He undertook to take this feedback and investigate.


BEAR Scotland – Investigate whether guidance can be given to convoy vehicle drivers to reduce risk of future accidents.

LS concluded the Q&A session by thanking all who participated.

The Minister thanked all involved for their contributions to the Taskforce and was keen to visit the A83 Rest and be Thankful site in the near future.

Previous actions

Minutes of meeting 19 did not include a commitment to share the report, on the forestry track, with the working group.

Report has, however, been shared in the online storymap. Closed out.

Investigate why Argyll timber transport group were not invited to meetings?

GR confirmed meeting planned was with the Campaign Group and did not include wider stakeholders. A further meeting was held to accommodate everyone.

JG confirmed the Campaign Group would welcome Taskforce members to future meetings. Closed out.

Working group with Argyll and Bute council to be set up and meeting arranged.

GR confirmed he is liaising with Jim Smith and this will be arranged in near future.

TS to provide substantial progress update at Taskforce meeting.

Closed out.

TS to discuss options to improve bends on the OMR with land owners where bridge parapet is to be rebuilt?

SL confirmed discussions with landowners and that the parapet is to be rebuilt taking into consideration the outcome of this meeting.

Closed out.

Next Meeting

LS confirmed 6 monthly cycle of meetings would continue.

GR reaffirmed information from today’s meeting will be shared, where appropriate, on the A83 Storymap on the TS web site. A global software crash has caused a delay to these updates but they will be made available as soon as possible, and Taskforce members will be emailed when the updates are live.


Transport Scotland – Inform Taskforce members when the Storymap has been updated on the TS web site.

Closed – email issued 16 March 2022.

Close of Meeting

Published Date 6 May 2022 Type Projects Area Mode of transport