SOME £4m has been 'wasted' over five years of failed temporary fixes to one of Scotland's key roads which has become plagued by landslides.

Details of the official costs of the mitigation measures over the past five years have emerged as campaigners fight for a permanent solution after an over 15-year failure to prevent disruption on the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful.

A campaign - backed by 1500 businesses - has issued a deadline of 2024 to finally resolve the issues with the important Highlands route which has been disrupted for seven months due to landslips and the threat of falling boulders.

According to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives and seen by the Herald, over £2.9m was spent on mitigation measures on the notorious stretch of road between April, 2016 and July, 2020.

But a further £1m has since been spent on a on 175-metre long, 6.6 metre high landslip barrier to stop debris from a potential landslip.

READ MORE: Rest and Be Thankful: Officials confirm there will be no landslide solution for 10 years

That was created near the official single track diversion, the Old Military Road, which is used when the A83 is out of action and runs through the centre of Glen Croe.

But in early February both the A83 and the diversion route had to be shut as an estimated 250 tonnes of debris reached the OMR overnight, despite the barrier. Drivers face a 60-mile diversion when both routes were closed.

Issues with landslides at the spot were highlighted in the Scottish Road Network Landslides Study part authored by then Scottish Executive - 17 years ago.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “Constant closures and landslips have caused misery for motorists and local residents at the Rest and Be Thankful for far, far too long.

“This shows that SNP ministers were content to continue to waste millions of taxpayers money on measures that were never going to fix the perennial issues with this route, and the latest figure is likely to be even higher.

“Local people will be astonished ministers wouldn’t listen to their concerns and ploughed on spending money on failing mitigation measures instead."


After a landslide in January, 2020 (above), the transport secretary Michael Matheson effectively dismissed calls for the permanent rerouting solution and instead decided to spend £1.9m on another attempt to catch any landslip fall, a big pit at Glen Croe.

But that did not stop the road being brought to a standstill in August, last year, when 6000 tonnes of debris fell amid heavy rain.

A new A83 route which could include a tunnel close to the A83 has been identified as the Scottish Government's favoured permanent solution.

Transport Scotland says its preferred route, via Glen Croe, is "more cost-effective and quicker to deliver, having significantly less environmental constraints".

It was among 11 options put forward last year for a long-term solution to years of disruption for road traffic between central Scotland and Argyll.

But that choice has now led to five new options on the table for the new Glen Croe route, some of which include tunnels up to 1.8 miles long.

Mr Simpson added: “Finally, the SNP have outlined a preferred route option after years of campaigning from the community and elected representatives. The Rest and Be Thankful is critical for the area’s economy and this proposed route must deliver a permanent solution once and for all.

“Anything less would be a complete failure of the SNP ministers to treat this trunk road with the importance it deserves for these rural communities.”

READ MORE: Infamous A83 at Rest and be Thankful shuts for safety reasons three days after re-opening following 'safety' barrier installation

Although no timescale or likely costs has been announced over the permanent solution to the chaos of the Rest and Be Thankful, the tunnel options could take up to two years longer than the others.


According to Bear Scotland around 250 tonnes of debris reached the OMR overnight despite the £1m barrier

The Rest and Be Thankful Campaign has warned that months of disruption to the route because of landslips have created new safety risks and have set a 2024 deadline for a permanent solution.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The resilience of the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful has deteriorated over the course of the last year. Between 2007 and mid 2020 we undertook proportionate methods to maintain connectivity. However the recent situation based on a series of landslides starting in August 2020 has called for further, and more extensive, action.

“We can assure local residents and road users that the situation is being treated with seriousness and urgency with measures to maintain connectivity through the Glen being expedited on a short, medium and long term basis.

“We recognise that the timescales for developing an alternative to the current route and finding a long-term solution to the challenges created by the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83 are frustrating for the local community and we will look to expedite the programme where possible. However, we must ensure that we follow the correct statutory process to ensure a fair and transparent assessment of options and impacts on local communities and road users.”

Jenni Minto, SNP candidate for Argyll and Bute, said: "It's absolutely appalling to see the Tories describe money invested in improving this vital road and measures to prevent landslides as a 'waste.'

"The A83 is absolutely critical for the movement of goods and people and it plays a vital part in all aspects of life in Argyll and Bute, from economy to education and employment opportunities. The Scottish Government has committed to identifying a permanent solution whilst continuing to invest in shorter term mitigation measures. 

"Urgent action is needed to ensure that Argyll & Bute's connections to and from the rest of the country are reliable, sustainable and open for business at all times. As someone who lives in Argyll & Bute, I am committed to ensuring this is the case, and working towards a practical solution to make this road accessible for local people, businesses and visitors - unlike the Tories who are only interested in desperate political attacks."