Torrential rain brought more travel misery to the Highlands yesterday as Storm Callum arrived, causing further landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful.
It had been hoped that the A83 Campbeltown to Tarbet Road, a main artery into Argyll, could re-open at the Rest yesterday morning – bringing an end to the extensive 60-mile detour which has been in place since Tuesday.
But the decision was made that the route will remain closed over the weekend as weather conditions worsened.
Three large boulders lying on the hillside which were causing concern had been secured on Thursday night and the plan was to open the Old Military Road detour route at the bottom of the valley yesterday.
But the wild conditions caused secondary slips on the hillside above the road yesterday at around 8am.
The Scottish Government’s Transport Minister made a visit to the Rest and Be Thankful yesterday to see the damage for himself.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson said: “The landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful this week have been some of the most challenging in recent memory both for the community and for the teams working in difficult conditions.
“I saw for myself this morning the size of the challenge with secondary slips complicating matters and delaying use of the Old Military Road diversion route. It is a dynamic situation on the hillside, there are warnings of further heavy rain and while every effort is being made to get traffic moving, today’s events reinforce the need for a safety first approach.
“I understand that local residents and businesses are being inconvenienced as a result of these events and I would like to thank them for their patience during the disruption. Every effort is being made to clean-up the debris and I appreciate the huge efforts of the recovery teams and police.
“We will convene the A83 taskforce at the earliest opportunity and consider further options to help build additional resilience into the route as soon as possible.”
Tommy Deans, Bear Scotland’s North West Network Manager said: “Safety remains our top priority, and although we had prepared the Old Military Road so that it was ready to open today, the further landslips this morning mean that this can no longer happen. With Storm Callum and further forecasts of heavy rain in coming days, it is not considered safe to open the Old Military Road this weekend.”
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The storm battered the Highlands yesterday, with a wind speed of 104mph recorded at the top of Cairngorm Mountain and speeds of up to 80mph in the Western Isles.
It caused major disruption to ferry services.
A spokesman for CalMac ferry said: “There has been extensive disruption across the whole CalMac network today (Friday) due to Storm Callum.
“All service in the to and across the Western Isles have been cancelled due to excessive wind conditions and services elsewhere have also been cancelled or delayed.”
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) had resilience plans in place for the weekend.
Colin Pirie, head of region for the Highlands and Islands, said: “I would like to reassure our customers we are well prepared for the high winds forecast for later this week and are increasing our resources accordingly.
“Our tried and tested resilience plans have been activated and we stand ready to respond promptly to any damage to our network this week’s bad weather may bring. I would encourage anyone concerned about the potential disruption to supplies for themselves or others, particularly family members or neighbours who may need extra support, to give our teams a call on 105.”
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency had two flood warnings in place for the Churchill Barriers in Orkney and Corpach and Caol in Lochaber.