THE leader of Argyll and Bute Council has called on Scotland's First Minister to take immediate and permanent action following yet another landslide which blocked one of the area's key roads.

Around 1,500 tonnes of debris washed on to the A83 near the Rest and Be Thankful on Tuesday after heavy rainfall, with parts of the trunk route and the Old Military Road diversion closed to drivers since.

The latest landslip is thought to be one of the largest ever recorded in the area and adds to a long list of closures.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Councillor Aileen Morton asked the Scottish Government to make a commitment to deliver a permanent solution after a decade of disruption.

Cllr Morton said: “This is now the second landslide of the year that has closed the Rest and Be Thankful and resulted in disruption to a major trunk road causing havoc for our communities, businesses and visitors.

"It is abundantly clear that mitigation measures have yet again failed the people of Argyll and Bute.

"Taking such a shilly shally approach is simply no longer acceptable and we, as a council, are asking again for a permanent solution to be identified, funded and delivered as a matter of urgency.

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"The issues on the Rest and Be Thankful have been debated, investigated, patched up and largely ignored for the last decade and we still find ourselves in this same position again.

"There is no time to waste now, this is one of the most iconic routes in Scotland bringing millions of people to the area, a major route for commerce and a vital link for our communities.

"Above all, we are talking public safety and the people of Argyll and Bute deserve better."

Helensburgh's MSP Jackie Baillie also demanded urgent action.

She said: “This is not the first time that we have seen the A83 closed at the Rest and Be Thankful. The consequences of each closure for the local economy and local people are hugely significant.

“Residents, businesses, workers and visitors in Argyll and Bute rely on the A83 to commute and move goods and services up and down the country. When both the A83 and the Old Military Road are closed the diversions are lengthy and add more time on to already long journeys.

“I am very grateful for all the efforts to re-open both roads, but it is clear that a permanent solution needs to be found to prevent closures like this from happening again.

“I know that Argyll and Bute Council, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government have worked together to find a solution, and it is vital that they do so urgently. Those who rely on the road should not have to put up with continued closures.”

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Transport Scotland said they have concluded the land purchase at the Rest and Be Thankful and are working closely with Forestry and Land Scotland to reintroduce the required local provenance native vegetation, including the planting of trees, on the hillside. The erection of deer fencing is also programmed to commence early next year with planting due to start next autumn.

The Scottish Government agency said that "Argyll and Bute will be prioritised" in the upcoming Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), which means that recommendations for the area can be one of the first reported.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We understand the frustration this latest incident will bring for local communities and drivers. Our operating company, BEAR Scotland, is working to assess, clear and then re-open the road as quickly as possible, but can only operate when it is safe to do so.

“To date, more than £13m has been invested in landslide measures at the Rest and Be Thankful and the Old Military Road, which have helped keep the road open for an estimated 48 days when it would otherwise have closed. This is part of the £79m invested in the wider maintenance and resilience of the A83 since 2007.

“Four roadside catch-pits have now been completed, with a total capacity of almost 15,000 tonnes and we are exploring options for further catch-pits with more work due to commence next month.

“We appreciate this will be scant consolation to those affected at this time and recognise that a permanent solution is key, albeit challenging, both from an engineering and financial perspective, in the current climate. The next taskforce meeting is due to reconvene next month.”

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