Following publication of a major review into plans for transport investment across Scotland, councillors are to seek further discussions with the Scottish Government to express their disappointment.
Transport Scotland developed the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) to inform transport investment in Scotland for the next 20 years.
It looked at all aspects of Scotland’s transport network including walking, cycling, bus, rail and road plus wider island connectivity in order to identify future options for investment. The final report contained 45 recommendations across Scotland for possible investment.
But, despite the Council submitting a wide range of projects for possible inclusion in STPR2, only two of the recommendations in the final report are expected to deliver any specific benefit for communities in Argyll and Bute.
The projects which have been included are for improved road infrastructure to address the ongoing issues with the A83 ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ road and the proposals for a fixed link to Mull to increase the reliability and connectivity of ferry services.
Councillors have expressed concerns about a range of issues around the review including:
- STPR2 focuses almost exclusively on infrastructure owned and operated by Transport Scotland with local authority roads and transport services not being considered.
- Local roads make up 94% of the road network and carry 65% of traffic in Scotland but the majority are out of scope of STPR2.
- Aviation is a vital mode of transport for rural Scotland, providing lifeline connections to remote communities but has been excluded from the review.
- The review doesn’t provide any detail on what constitutes a strategic ferry port in Scotland which could have significant consequences for Argyll and Bute which has more inhabited islands than any other local authority.
Councillor Andrew Kain, Policy Lead for Roads and Transport, said: “STPR2 is highly significant for the future of transport investment in Scotland for the next 20 years and the recommendations for our communities are particularly disappointing in light of the initial assurances we were given and how engaged the Council was throughout the entire process.
“Indeed it is my view that some of the outcomes are likely to have unintended, negative and potentially damaging consequences.
“We will be seeking further discussions with both Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government to both express our major concerns about the review and to seek further clarification on a number of issues.”