TRANSPORT bosses have been told they must answer the questions and concerns of businesses and residents in Argyll and Bute over plans for a permanent solution for the A83 near the Rest and Be Thankful.

The Scottish Government recently announced plans for a £470 million 'debris flow shelter' on the trunk road through Glen Croe as a permanent fix to years of closures on the route west of Arrochar, caused by landslides after heavy rain.

The subject was discussed at a full meeting of Argyll and Bute Council on Thursday, June 29 - when leader Robin Currie said answers were still needed over how communities in Argyll will be kept connected while the work is taking place.

Councillor Currie said: “Whilst we welcome progress from the Scottish Government, our communities and businesses simply cannot afford any additional delay, given the serious disruption Argyll and Bute has had to cope with.

"Our communities have many questions and concerns despite this sign of progress including what will happen while work is ongoing.

"What is deeply concerning is the prospect of any of the main route in and out of Argyll and Bute reduced to a single lane during construction.

"If that happens, it would be crippling for the area given the impact so far and this could be in place for several more years.

"Crucially, communities need to know what measures can be put in place to ensure that Argyll and Bute remains open for business and able to move its valuable produce, products and people to and from the rest of the country.”

After a motion put forward by Councillor Currie was unanimously backed at Thursday's full council meeting, he will now write to transport minister Fiona Hyslop MSP to highlight the community's concerns.

The council leader will also seek: 

- reassurance from the Minister and Transport Scotland officials on timescales, measures to minimise delays, and contingency plans in the event of a major accident;

- confirmation that the government's plans to upgrade the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan will proceed as planned;

- confirmation that the minister will organise an urgent meeting of the government's A83 Taskforce group;

- assurances on an "exhaustive communications strategy" by the government and other parties involved, stating that Argyll and Bute is "open and accessible" during the work.

Councillor Currie added: “It is absolutely vital to maintain momentum and ensure there is no question of unnecessary delay to a permanent solution for the A83.

“Our communities and businesses simply cannot endure more years of disruption that has already had a catastrophic impact on Argyll and Bute.”

Resurfacing work on the road east of the Rest and Be Thankful is due to be completed on Tuesday, July 18.

The government's announcement on the debris flow shelter plan also included a commitment that upgrade work on the Old Military Road diversion route, on the other side of Glen Croe, will begin later this year.

In response to locals’ concerns about the plans – ranging from its visual appeal to its general suitability – Transport Scotland stated that the shelter was determined as the best solution after much consideration.

A spokesperson said: “We have been working tirelessly to find a long-term solution to the landslip risks at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful.

"Following a thorough assessment, the preferred debris flow shelter route option performed most favourably across a broad range of criteria – it also has the greatest potential to be delivered quickly and presents the best opportunity to encourage sustainable travel.

“At the same time, we are looking to increase the resilience of the temporary diversion route along the existing Old Military Road, with the first phase of the proposed improvements, comprising the realignment of the southern end of the road, expected to begin later this year.”