Meeting minutes - Taskforce - 9 September 2021 - A83 Improvements

List of Attendees

Lindsay Alexander for Brendan O'Hara MP (LA) UK Parliament
Daniel McCroskrie for Donald Cameron MSP (DM) Scottish Parliament
Keir Low for Jenni Minto MSP (KL) Scottish Parliament
Jackie Baillie MSP (JB) Scottish Parliament
Cllr Dougie Philand (DP) Argyll & Bute Council
Cllr Jim Lynch (JL) Argyll & Bute Council
Cllr Rory Colville (RC) Argyll & Bute Council
Cllr Robin Currie (RC) Argyll & Bute Council
Cllr Alan Reid (AR) Argyll & Bute Council
Kirsty Flanagan (KF) Argyll & Bute Council
Hugh Gillies (HG) Transport Scotland
Scott Lees (SL) Transport Scotland
Jo Blewett (JBl) Transport Scotland
Gordon Ramsay (GR) Transport Scotland
George Fiddes (GF) Transport Scotland
Tanja Waaser (TW) Transport Scotland
Sam MacNaughton (SM) Transport Scotland
Mike Baxter (MB) BEAR Scotland
Eddie Ross (ER) BEAR Scotland
Euan Scott (ES) BEAR Scotland
Niall McLean (NMc) Geo-rope
John Hair (JH) Forestry & Land Scotland
Mary Haggerty (MH) Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui Community Council
Iain Jurgensen (IJ) Wild About Argyll / AITC
Lucy Sumsion (LS) NFU Scotland
Ranald Robertson (RR) Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership
Peter McKerral (PMcK) McKerral Timber
Kirsty Robb (KR) Ridings Sawmills
Iain Catterwell (IC) Argyll Timber Transport Group
Morag Goodfellow (MG) Argyll and the Islands
Tom Murphy (TM) Argyll and Bute Council
Iain MacInnes (IMacI) Lochgoil Community Council
Nicolas Sobey (NS) Highland and Islands Enterprise
John Gurr (JG) A83 Campaign Group Chair
Ryan Hutchison (RH) Aecom
Martin Stewart (MS) Aecom
Gavin Dick (GD)
Ritchie Clift (RC) Jacobs
David Robertson (DR) Jacobs
Kenny MacLeod (KMac) MacLeod Construction


Transport Minister Graeme Dey MSP Scottish Parliament

Could not access Teams

Ronnie MacDonald (RMacD) Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui Community Council

Opening remarks by the Director of Roads

HG opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending the meeting. HG outlined the measures taken since August 2020 event with added resilience to the A83 and OMR. HG highlighted the ongoing commitment to short medium and long term solutions and the recent meeting between Transport Minister Dey with the A83 Campaign Group and the resulting forestry track walkover. A forestry track walkover will be organised for the Task Force members in the coming weeks. Advised that BEAR would follow with a presentation.

LS commented on the minutes of meeting No 19 that they did not include Transport Scotland’s commitment to share a report on the forestry track with the task force and that the working group has not been set up so far.

Action - Transport Scotland

Presentation by BEAR Scotland

ER provided an overview of the remediation works carried out following the event in August 2020 and February 2021. Highlighted the completion of catch pit 1 end of August and the commencement of works on a further catch pit. Details on resurfacing works of the OMR including high friction surfacing and improved resilience of the A83 and OMR.

Q&A on Presentation

JG- Is the centre line barrier permanent and if not when will it be removed?

ER- Traffic signals will be up for the next 37 weeks, for the construction of the new debris pit. The barrier is temporary and we will review the need for it after the pit is constructed. It will depend on how the hillside performs during this period.

JG – is the work to build resilience going to solve the problem and prevent road to be closed?

ER - the scale of some potential landslide could overwhelm the pit being constructed but it increases the chance of keeping the A83 open and if there are closures they are likely to be short term and clean up will be quicker. We are in a better position than same time last year.

LS – Regarding the Kinglas bunds - could you confirm how long you think the works in Glen Kinglas will continue i.e. the construction of the bund there?

ER - We encountered problems with material excavated from RabTH, it is not as suitable to use as hoped and further investigation is required. We will have a better understanding in the coming weeks.

Medium to Long term

Jacobs provided an update to the group on the medium and long term work that has been progressing since December 2020 whenthe Taskforce last met. The work is mainly focused on data gathering which is expected to be well progressed by end of the year with a project update to be provided by early spring 2022. The modelling of options for the long term solution is ongoing and with more data available throughout the rest of the year we would hope to reduce the number of options for more efficient design considerations and progress. The medium term solutions are progressing, however data gathering is the main focus in order to be able to assess and develop the medium term options.

Q & A

IM – Is Transport Scotland still considering options and when will we know? There is a concern it is not moving quick enough.

JB - Currently we are gathering information and this will go on for rest of the year, in spring we hope to provide an update on the project. We are aiming to have a medium term solution design by end of next year. We will look at ways to bring this forward if possible but we need the data first. For the long term solution, a preferred route will likely be announced after that, possibly early 2023.

DP - How long after spring will we be starting to build an option?

JB - We want to scope down options and gather data, it will take a number of years to get a long term solution. Any data Transport Scotland gets can be shared with the Task Force.

IC – Argyll Timber Transport Group collated a lot of information but they were not invited to meetings, they had funding in place and it was not taken advantage of, Why?

Action - Transport Scotland

JB – asked which meeting IC was referring to as it was not clear ATTG had been missed out from any meeting. HG answered that Transport Scotland will offer a meeting to Argyll Timber Transport Group, as we have to the campaign group, to carry out a site visit of the forestry track.

LS asked - if it is going to take 7-10 years for the long-term option is that why a 2-way medium road is being considered in the medium term on the west side rather than just a single track quicker fix and continue to use the OMR?

JB - Yes but all other things are still considered, it is important to get right balance and get a safe option, we are committed to focus on the best option we can but also quickest option we can deliver.

RC asked – 7-10 years for longer term and 4 years for medium solution, is this correct that since it is a year we are considering options, next autumn we will be 2 years into the 4 years and therefore only 2 years to go.

JB – Announcement in March 2021 that the long term solution is 7-10 years and 18 months for the medium, we are using the time we said we need and are still on target to deliver.

AR – Is there an overlap between medium and long term and could you clarify the difference between them?

RH answered that there is a potential overlap is the middle section with tie in at north and south end where there are challenges, the medium term solution would tie in to the A83 sooner and at a lower standard, however, the interface between the two is being considered.

LS – there were plans to set up a working group with the council this has not happened yet.

JB – Transport Scotland is happy to do this, we are waiting to be able to share more information and this will be picked up with Jim Smith at the Council. Start of next year will be the best time to have meaningful discussion with Argyll and Bute Council.

Action - Transport Scotland

PM – It is clear there will be no alternative for a while, why is not more done to the OMR to improve the road in the meantime?

ER - all improvements are to deal with issues on OMR and will increase resilience, we are in a much better place than last year, changes to the alignment of the OMR are a problem because it is a private road and does not belong to Transport Scotland, all work will have to be carried out in agreement with landowner, the major issue with the bend has been dealt with by improving skid resistance and availability of recovery vehicles.

LS – How often will there be a meeting with the Task Force? It was agreed that Task Force is the main conduit to share information and it is important to have regular meetings.

GF - Regular meetings were held every 6 months in the past. Due to circumstances the last meeting was December 2020 but regular stakeholder written updates were issued in the meantime. How often would it be seen as useful to meet?

LS - Every 6 months would be useful.

HG – Transport Scotland will provide a written update in December 2021 and then arrange a Task Force meeting for start of 2022.

Action - Transport Scotland

IM - Why can the land of OMR not be purchased? And why is the progress on the forestry track solution so slow?

SL – Transport Scotland can only buy the road from the landowners by agreement and not CPO. The OMR is part of a working farm and therefore it is difficult to purchase the OMR. The progress of the forestry track solution is governed by due process. If we do not follow due process in developing the forestry track option, it could lead to serious issues. With work on the OMR resilience is improved, and at this moment in time information is not sufficient to say forestry road is safe.

RC - If this would be in the central belt and people there would not have access it would be treated as an emergency so it is an emergency here. Why not CPO now as it is essential to solve the issue with the major bends on the OMR.

ER - OMR operated very well until the surface became polished by constant use. The narrow section has now been resurfaced and the steepest section has had high friction surfacing added to give good grip. In the past experience the only drivers that had issues were the ones less skilled.

GR added that in order to CPO land it is necessary to demonstrate that a variety of options were assessed in order to obtain robust evidence/justification for the decision to CPO the land. Compulsory purchase of land forms part of the statutory process and if this process is not adhered to a CPO cannot be justified and it can be challenged potentially resulting in major delays.

PM - The OMR is not an option as it can be closed and vehicles get stuck. The forestry track is taking too long to investigate, it is on government land and it needs to be accelerated.

ER - OMR is only ever closed during the worst conditions, now resilience measures are in place the closure of the OMR is less likely and resilience has improved.

JB – We can only emphasise that data is needed. The situation has changed over the past year and we will focus on government land options.

AR – Can the sharp bends on the OMR be addressed and taken out? Is it possible to purchase land only for this part of the OMR?

ER - There is a bridge at the corner of the OMR that is causing the sharp bend. The parapet was struck and will be rebuild splayed back somewhat to improve the situation. No further assessment of options was progressed to improve the bends, however with skid resistance improved the issues should be mitigated.

SL – we will discuss with landowners the option to improve the bends and will feed back.

Action - Transport Scotland

JG – The A83 Campaign Group offered to do a dry run of the OMR and test new surface to get feedback from hauliers and drivers.

GF – Transport Scotland will take this up and organise with campaign group.

Close of Meeting

Key Action for Transport Scotland:

  • Transport Scotland to arrange a site meeting with members of the Taskforce who wish to see the forestry track first hand.
  • Transport Scotland to speak to Argyll and Bute Council about establishing a working group to commence in 2022.
  • Transport Scotland to provide substantial update on progress by Spring 2022, following data collection period.
  • Transport Scotland to share data with Task Force as it becomes available.
    It was agreed that the Taskforce will be the main conduit to disseminate relevant information.

SL on behalf of HG thanked all for attending and concluded what was acknowledged as a positive meeting.

Published Date 15 Nov 2021 Type Projects Mode of transport