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Rest and Be Thankful: Nearly £1million paid to private owner of diversion route as ‘interim arrangement’

The new project will see an additional catch-pit constructed on A83 Rest and Be Thankful road.
Old Military Road is often used as a diversion route from the landslip-prone A83 Rest and Be Thankful road.

Nearly £1million has been paid out to the owner of a diversion route used during the closure of the landslip prone A83 Rest and Be Thankful road.

Figures revealed payments of just over £918,675 in total have been made over the last six years, with annual instalments being transferred to the landowner of Old Military Road, Glen Croe Farm.

The road runs below and parallel to the A83 in Glen Croe in Argyll, and is often used as a diversion route when the A83 is closed due to dangers from severe weather.

Figures revealed thousands of pounds being paid to the owner under a “minute of agreement” with the headings of “stock movement”, “readiness”, “use” and “reinstatement”.

The information was obtained following a Freedom of Information Request to Transport Scotland by concerned resident Catriona Renfrew.

Landslide mitigation works at the Rest and Be Thankful.

Urgent calls for a permanent solution to Rest and Be Thankful

Miss Renfrew, from Otter Ferry, appealed to the Information Commissioner after Transport Scotland initially refused to provide an answer as the payments were a “private arrangement” with the landowner.

She claimed the Scottish Government agency “wanted to conceal embarrassing misuse of public money” and questioned “the competence of Transport Scotland”.

Miss Renfrew added: “The most important thing is the road is unreliable and that causes huge disruption for people going to hospital, for businesses, for farmers and for the tourism industry.

“In 2021, they spent £350,000 on these interim arrangements. Now, if they spend that every year for the next 10 years, which is the timeline to get a new road, that’s a huge amount of public money and they still don’t seem to have thought about compulsorily purchase of the land.

“It just highlights how public money isn’t being used properly and how the failure to make decisions by Transport Scotland is leading to further disruptions and delays.

“It also just poses more questions about the competence of Transport Scotland.

“All of us in Argyll want to see a final decision and a start made on developing a permanent solution to the road as soon as possible.”

‘We are working hard to find the right solutions’

The A83 Rest and Be Thankful is notorious for its steep ascent on the side of Glen Croe and was given the moniker since drivers are thankful they made it to the top.

The infamous road has been plagued by landslips and long-lasting road closures for years, with local campaigners calling on the government to take urgent action on a “catastrophe waiting to happen”.

Five companies have recently been invited to propose ideas that will provide a long-term solution and limit disruption long-term.

Currently, workers are also carrying out ground inspections in Glen Croe to identify possible alternative routes – with the task force consulting with the Norwegian Government, given their reputation for successful engineering projects.

Road works on the A83 where the landslides have occurred.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to ensuring continued road access in and out of Argyll and Bute for the benefit of everyone who lives there, operates a business there or wants to visit the region.

“We are working hard to find the right short, medium and long term solutions.

“Reaching agreement for the use of the Old Military Road (OMR) provides a suitable short-term solution.  It means we can reduce the use of the alternative longer diversion, via Inverary and Crianlarich.

“Transport Scotland has spent over £15million in landslide measures at the Rest and Be Thankful and they, along with the use of the OMR, have meant that the longer diversion has not had to be used since February 2021.”

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