A vital west coast road which has been closed after a serious landslide will not reopen for the foreseeable future.

Instead, an emergency diversion route is scheduled to open along the A816 at Ardfern in around mid December, Argyll and Bute council has said. 

Six thousand tonnes of debris with rocks as big as buses swept onto the road following extreme rainfall in early October. 

Read more: A816 Ardfern: Calls for road to be reopened after landslide

Since, there has been significant disruption for people in the area and those using the route which connects Lochgilphead and Oban.

This has been compounded by the closure of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, also due to landslides, for which the A816 is often used as an alternative route.

Children in Ardfern have been forced to take boats to their school in Lochgilphead, patients have had to travel more than twice as far to hospital, and businesses have suffered as a result of the closure. 

A major effort is under way to clear the A816, which stretches 36.4 miles, with thousands of tonnes of debris reported to have been removed already. 

The Herald: The scene at the A816 after the landslideThe scene at the A816 after the landslide (Image: Oban Mountain Rescue)

The road was hoped to be reopened by mid to late November. 

However, Argyll and Bute council has said teams are having to deal with precarious boulders weighing as much as 220 tonnes, and more material came down in the wet weather in early November. 

A spokesperson said: "Due to ongoing movement on the hillside, particularly in wet weather, and the number and size of boulders, we have also been working to progress an emergency diversion option to provide resilience and to open up a route in as short a timescale as possible. 

Read more: Landslip A816 closed, but Christmas market is open

"At this stage the emergency diversion route is going to be the most certain, and therefore fastest, way of getting a route along the A816 reopened.

"Subject to finalising a licence to occupy land we expect to have the emergency road in place mid-December, before the landslip affected part of the A816 is open. We are progressing planning for the road construction so we can deliver the road as quickly as possible once the land access agreements are in place."

The Herald: Map of the proposed emergency relief road next to the A816 at ArdfernMap of the proposed emergency relief road next to the A816 at Ardfern (Image: Argyll and Bute Council)

In the long term, the council said it is "very likely" it will divert the road to the new emergency route permanently. 

The authority says it is working hard to provide the emergency route, which is more naturally protected from weather effects, as soon as "reasonably practical".

Arrangements have been made for pupils to get to and from school, including boats between Ardfern and Crinan. These can be booked free of charge by the public directly with Venture West