NEWS - November 2016
The Cowal Fixed Link Working Group is currently focussed on these topics:
- Applying for funding to conduct a series of public consutlations about the overall proposal, about the various route options under consideration and creating and presenting a petition to the Scottish Parliament.
- Exploring the commisioning of a detailed economic impact study to quantify the benefit to Cowal, Bute and South Argyll of the improved connectivity offered by a fixed link.
As these projects develop, further news will be posted here.
05 November 2018Briefing re A83 Task Force Meeting 15 November 2018
A83 Task Force 15 November 2018
Cowal Fixed Link Working Group
There is a growing impetus to find a permanent solution to the problem of landslips on the Rest and Be Thankful (ROTB) section of the A83. It is vitally important that, in the emotional atmosphere justifiably caused by recent events, that we do not lose the focus on other solutions to the current A83 problem which could produce addition long term benefits.
Options proposed by the Cowal Fixed Link Working Group (www.cowalfixedlink.scot) for a link between Cowal and South Argyll, particularly the so-called Loch Long / Ardentinny Bridge, would not only address the A83 problems but provide the following additional benefits:
- An economic life line that would connect Cowal / South Argyll to the central belt. The economic benefits that have accrued to the Borders / Tweeddale area with the advent of the Borders Railway are substantially higher than forecast and have more than justified the cost of that link. Although the pressure from campaigners for a solution to the A83 / ROTB problems are focused on the need for a road link, the marginal cost of widening any bridge by approximately 7 metres to provide the option for a rail link, even if on a later schedule than the road link, would be more than justified.
- Any link between Cowal / South Argyll and the central belt, if appropriately designed, could form the first phase of an eventual link from Scotland to Northern Ireland. Again, political pressure and support is growing for, at least, to conduct a feasibility study into such an infrastructure investment. Again, the option to route any NI link through South Argyll must be kept at the forefront of consideration; otherwise the option of the notion of a Portpatrick / Larne connection might prevail. There is a perception that an Argyll / NI link should be ruled out because of inaccessibility. This needs to be strenuously resisted by the Scottish Government:
- A tunnel between South Argyll and NI (Kintyre / Torr Head) would not only be the shortest link, but the least complex in engineering terms and would not be subject to weather. It would also avoid Beaufort’s Dyke.
- A channel tunnel style rail link, with vehicle shuttles, would be cheaper than a bridge, and more environmentally friendly. Such a link would be built to current High Speed (HS) rail standards, and would include HS upgrades to existing networks.
- A link from Portpatrick to Larne would bring minimal economic benefit to Scotland as it would connect straight to the M74 or the rail line North of Carlisle. A link from Kintyre would route through the economically deprived areas of South Argyll and would also connect to Glasgow.
- Studies on route options shows that a HS rail service from Glasgow to Belfast via a Kintyre tunnel would take about 80 minutes. This could connect further to Dublin which would take less than 30 minutes.
One of the options being suggested for a solution to the A83 / ROTB problem is a tunnel adjacent to the current route. A public petition for this option has attracted thousands of signatures. The cost of a 4km tunnel is estimated at approximately £300 million. This may well be the same sort of investment that, for instance, the Loch Long / Ardentinny Bridge would cost.
Finding an A83 / ROTB solution and the benefits of looking at additional option must be subject to detailed and immediate economic impact and feasibility studies before any decisions are made and before any further significant spending on the current A83 / ROTB.