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Stromeferry road help will not be fast-paced

By Scott Maclennan

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HOPES are fading that the Scottish Government might offer immediate assistance to Highland Council over efforts to resolve the long-running problems on the Stromeferry bypass.

The area is notorious for frequent rock falls and landslips that block the bypass leading to a diversion that is thought to be the longest in the UK at more than 130 miles.

Council leader Margaret Davison met transport minister Michael Matheson at the end of November but the only outcome was advice to apply for Scottish Futures Trust funding.

Millions of pounds have been spent over the years in trying to keep the road open, with rockfalls blocking the route for weeks at a time. The latest works to shore up the rock face only finished last month.

Councillor Davidson was asked about the meeting by Derek MacLeod, the local ward member, to find out if any progress had been made at the meeting.

She said: “The cabinet secretary advised that the council should talk with Scottish Futures Trust with regard to potential funding options.

“Your other comment was about the strategic transport review – that is not due until 2020 as far as I know and he spoke about Stromeferry being part of that review if we wanted to put it forward.

She added: “We will be continuing to prepare, we have no option – we have a duty to the people that use that road daily.”

Cllr Macleod is growing weary of the to-and-fro between council and government particularly as the local authority.

He said: “The council leader indicated in her reply to my quesion that the council would begin to prepare an application to this Fund as directed.

“I also understand that the Highland Council, under the auspices of the development and infrastructure committee, intend to form a small working group to investigate the options for a permanent solution and to make a specific recommendation to the Scottish Government.”

Despite that, Cllr Macleod does not expect anything new from the government and said he was in the dark whether it was aware of its obligations in the matter.

He said: “On the question of whether the Scottish Government recognises their responsibilities under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 to regularly review the Strategic Roads Network there was no answer.

“The long-awaited response to the STAG appraisal submitted to the minister’s predecessor over 18 months ago is expected next month but will probably repeat the assertion that as a local authority road and not a problem for Scottish Ministers or Transport Scotland.”

Cllr Macleod has been pushing for the road to become a trunk road because it links vital road and ferry routes as well as incorporating the bypass.

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