MOTORISTS are facing major delays after a landslip caused the closure of a busy road in the west of Scotland.
Up to 100 tonnes of material fell on to the A83 Tarbet to Campbeltown road in Argyll and Bute, at the Rest and Be Thankful, just after 7am today.
The road is now closed in both directions between the B828 and A815.
The landslip is understood to have occurred after more than 36mm of rain fell in the area in the last 24 hours, and 29.8mm the day before.
Normally, the monthly average for rainfall in Argyllshire is around 239mm, meaning more than a quarter of the month’s expected rain fell in two days.
Transport Scotland said it is working with police and Argyll and Bute Council in response to the incident, but diversions mean an extra 26 miles has been added to journeys.
A spokesman said: “A team of engineers is currently on site assessing the situation, but we know that up to 100 tonnes of material has already fallen onto the road and there is still movement being recorded by the operating company.
“The clearance operation will get under way once the water has subsided and a risk assessment of further slippage is made.
“Details of the diversion route (via A83 Inveraray - A819 Dalmally - A85 Tyndrum - A82 Tarbet) have been communicated to ferry companies and are available on the Traffic Scotland website and internet radio site, which are being regularly updated.
“Our absolute priority is the safety of motorists and we appreciate their patience as this matter is dealt with as a matter of urgency.”
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: “I have been in touch with the transport minister who assures me that everything possible is being done to clear the site and ensure that the road is safe and reopened as quickly as possible.
“It is imperative that the road is reopened as soon as possible as the alternative routes are lengthy, present huge logistical problems and disadvantage many Argyll businesses who rely on the passing trade that the traffic on this route provides.”
Commenting on the incident during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood today, Alex Salmond said: “Engineers are onsite as we speak but there can be no clearance operation until the water has subsided and a risk assessment of any further slippage is carried through.
“The local radio stations have been informed of the situation, a diversion route has been put in place and communicated to the public.
“Details have also been communicated to the relevant ferry companies.”
Mr Salmond said the Traffic Scotland website was being regularly updated with the latest information.
“We can’t as yet confirm when the road will reopen. We expect it may be closed for up to 24 hours,” he added.