Scottish ministers urged to rethink Loch Lomond route upgrade plan

More than 400 people have signed a petition to Scottish ministers, calling for a new ‘high road’ along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Campaigners have hit out at upgrade plans for the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan, which would involve widening and rebuilding the existing ‘low road’ along the shores of the loch.

This will jeopardise rare and ancient Atlantic woodlands, exacerbate congestion and condemn local communities “to suffer the blight of thundering traffic for ever more”, they say.

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They have also accused the Scottish Government of choosing the route without a full cost-benefit analysis of all options.

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The route between Tarbet and Inverarnan, a stretch of just under 11 miles, runs adjacent to the west bank of Loch Lomond and the River Falloch.

It is located within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

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It is “a complex site that is physically constrained”, according to Transport Scotland, with the loch on one side and steep terrain and a railway line on the other.

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Part of the A82 has already been upgraded on the existing lochside 'low road', including this section at Pulpit Rock. Picture: HDAT

The current road, a popular tourist route, is fairly narrow and winding.

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As well as problems with congestion, it is a hot-spot for accidents.

Now a petition has been launched by walking trails charity Helensburgh and District Access Trust (HDAT).

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It calls for ministers to “reconsider the process for selecting the preferred option” for the route and consider a new “high road” to be built further up the hillside.

Campaigners say a new 'high road' along Loch Lomond would help protect the nature and beauty of the 'bonnie banks' and benefit local communities. Picture: HDAT
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The petitioners claim this option, despite likely higher costs, would have long-term environmental, recreational, economic and social benefits. These include preserving native woodlands and the shoreline; reducing traffic upheaval during construction; linking the Three Lochs Way walking trail to the West Highland Way; reducing heavy traffic and improving road safety; and allowing faster travel while still affording views of Loch Lomond.

John Urquhart, convener of HDAT, said: “Unless you are a keen walker doing the West Highland Way, really the only place you can now experience that wonderful scenic mix of ancient oak and birch and hazel woodland embracing craggy headlands and overhanging little silvery beaches is the eight miles between Tarbet and Adlui.

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“This last accessible fragment of the bonnie banks must be preserved in its entirety.”

The A82, Scotland's most dangerous road for accidents, cuts through communities along the shores of Long Lomond -- in Tarbet, heavy traffic passes close to the local primary school. Picture: HDAT
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Almost 450 people have already signed the petition, which runs until October 18.

Stuart Cordner, owner of boat trip business Cruise Loch Lomond, is a signatory.

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He said: “Visitors from all around the globe come to Scotland to enjoy the scenery and tranquility that the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond has to offer.

“From the Loch passengers enjoy the views of the natural landscape and ancient woodlands while watching for birdlife such as osprey.

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“New A82 road proposals would adversely impact the stunning scenery.”

Transport Scotland insisted it has followed “a rigorous assessment process” to establish the design of the scheme.

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“We fully understand people feel strongly about this route and this is why maintaining the natural beauty of this key lifeline link is an integral part of the design to ensure we deliver the right scheme and keep impacts on the environment to the absolute minimum,” a spokesman for the agency said.

The spokesman said there was lots of development work still to be carried out, but the aim was to deliver the scheme “as soon as possible”.

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