Letters to the editor – March 26, 2021

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An open letter to the First Minister following the announcement of Transport Scotland’s ‘preferred corridor’ past the Rest and be Thankful

Dear First Minister,

I write to you as chairperson of the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign, a group which represents more than 1,500 Argyll businesses.

Over the past few weeks, we have twice written to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson and sadly received no response.

Regarding the Rest and be Thankful (RABT), whilst we welcome the decision to select option one for the permanent solution of the landslide-blighted section of the A83, we fear a further consultation simply delays the process – the phrase ‘kicking it into the long grass’ springs to mind. Especially when option one, the Glen Croe route, was the chosen option from the A83 Trunk Road Study – summary report published by Jacobs in 2012.

Surely, after nine years of consulting, the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland can choose the best solution rather than going through a lengthy and expensive consultation process.

Based on this, our members would like the permanent solution fast tracked, which is well within the Scottish Government’s power and we would ask for this to be seriously considered.

Our other comments and feedback to last week’s announcement are as follows:

The timber road route should be upgraded as a short-term solution this summer and not in the suggested 18 months.

Argyll businesses have faced the issues of landslides for many years. However, the situation has worsened over the past year and in our opinion it has now become a national emergency and requires immediate action.

The 100,000 tons of unstable material could swamp any further mitigation measures put in place on the A83 and Old Military Road (OMR) and make the roads impassable. This could easily happen when we next have an extended period of rainfall.

Savings in further mitigation work could go towards upgrading the forestry road.

The long-term solution should be selected from the 2012; The A83 Trunk Road Study and based on the delivery of the most sustainable outcome.

Any well-developed permanent solution needs to be open 24/7 (even when it rains) without fear of being buried under tons of rock and mud, and will have less environmental impact than the landslides, catchpits, netting and OMR bund we are currently experiencing.

Our understanding of costs and timescales from similar schemes in Norway show a tunnel could be built in three years at a cost of £50-60m, and not the £250-800m stated by Transport Scotland.

Members of The RABT Campaign group represent a cross section of business sectors and we would welcome the chance to meet with your officials to discuss how we might help cut through the lengthy timescales and fast-track decision making.

John Gurr  

Lochgilphead Cinderella no more

Sir,

I heard that there was work going on in Lochgilphead town centre, and that some people were complaining, about mess and upheaval. No change there then!

When I observed the work, I was so surprised at the difference this will make to the town and to the moaners I say ‘you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs’.

When I spoke to them, the workforce were polite and commented that they were looking forward to the end result.

For too long now Lochgilphead has been the Cinderella of Argyll and Bute; now it seems she will go to the Ball.

From a very satisfied resident.

Name and address supplied

Switch off your lights

Sir,

Just ahead of WWF’S Earth Hour last year, the country was put into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we look ahead to this year’s event on Saturday March 27 at 8.30pm, many of us are reflecting on the future, as we emerge from the latest, and hopefully last ‘stay at home’ period.

With that in mind, we are asking people to use Earth Hour by helping us to create the ‘Great Scottish Canvas’. Switch off your lights and by candlelight or torchlight, use the hour to paint a picture, craft a poem, doodle or write something which illustrates the future Scotland you want to live in.

With so many eyes on Scotland this year, due to Scottish Parliament elections in May and the vital COP26 climate talks in November, we want to show the world the vision of the Scottish people, for a greener and fairer society for us all. Find out more at the www.wwf.org.uk website.

I look forward to seeing the things you believe will make Scotland a better place, perhaps changing the way we heat our homes, how we travel around our towns and cities, or even how we grow the food we eat.

Lang Banks, director, WWF Scotland, Edinburgh

A better society

Sir,

Tuesday March 23 marked the anniversary of the day the UK entered lockdown. We have lived through what is probably the most extraordinary year in most people’s lifetimes.

Blind and partially sighted people have had to adjust, like everyone else, to the daily challenges this  has created. Thankfully, there’s now light at the end of the tunnel. But some ongoing measures could continue to be barriers to their independence and confidence.

People with sight loss can sometimes find it difficult to judge space, so we’re asking everyone to maintain their own distance, be patient and be helpful.

Just getting out and about can be more hazardous for those without sight. The government’s ‘Spaces for People’ initiative has already transformed many of our streets and thoroughfares. We must take care that this doesn’t inadvertently create new obstacles for those with disabilities.

Let’s make one positive legacy of this crisis a resolve to make sure we re-emerge as a society in which no one is left at the margins.

James Adams, director, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland, Edinburgh