Highland Council has agreed to ‘rachet up’ its plans to combat dangerous rock fall on the Stromeferry Bypass.
Wester Ross councillors Derek Macleod and Ian Cockburn pressed the council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure committee to take action in the light of the latest report into the precarious state of the rockface.
The steep cliffs plunging down to the edge of the A890 at Stromeferry are geologically unstable due to tectonics known as the Moine Thrust.
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The report, by AECOM Engineering, shows four ‘very high risk’ rock faces, seven ‘high risk’ rock faces and 10 of moderate risk.
Highland Council historically has the responsibility for keeping the parallel-running railway line clear of rockfall, and carries out daily and monthly inspections on the route.
Part of the rock face close to the line is currently being worked on in a £1.2 million project which started in September and will finish later this month.
Mr Macleod, a retired electrical engineer from Kyle and Gairloch has long maintained the problem should have been resolved years ago with a bridge to Strome, ideally with a built-in turbine to produce power, and a bypass along Lochcarron village.
He said: “This is just one episode in a long, long history with that route. The state of the roads there has to be seen to be believed, and I think there is now a case to be made for going to the government to get the route trunked. It would link two existing strategic trunk roads linking two ferry points and Ullapool.”
Garve-based councillor Cockburn said: “The inspection report doesn’t give confidence to the community.
“We need to get out of the agreement for the council to look after the rock face, Network Rail has got to pay something.”
Mr Cockburn raised an unopposed motion that money should be released by the council to look at funding for safety design plans to go ahead.
Council leader Margaret Davidson said she was meeting transport secretary Michael Matheson later this month, and would report back on what options he is putting on the table.
Meantime, there would be further measures to mitigate the risk, she added.
She said: “AECOM and the structural engineers are now going to be involved in the monthly inspections.
“We’re racheting up what we’re doing, we’re looking options, we have a really good level of community support and the MSPs are lobbying with us for a longer term sustainable solution for Stromeferry.”