Scotland’s weather: Heavy rain causes landslips

A landslip on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful road. Picture: Contributed
A landslip on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful road. Picture: Contributed
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LANDSLIPS blocked seven stretches of road and railway across western Scotland today after it had been drenched by up to 265mm (10.4in) of rain since Friday.

The latest downpours also caused widespread disruption on other routes, with flooding closing streets from Greenock to Edinburgh and the Port Glasgow-Wemyss Bay rail line.

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Debris from landslips covered three sections of the main A83 Glasgow to Kintyre road in Argyll, including 800 tonnes at the notorious Rest and Be Thankful pass landslide blackspot.

A further 1,000 tonnes, including large boulders, were caught by netting further up the hillside.

Engineers from BEAR Scotland hope to open a diversion route along the Old Military Road below the pass today.

They are also clearing smaller landslips nearby, at Glen Kinglas to the west and Ardgartan to the east, and flooding of the A83 in Arrochar.

To add to the problem, the main A83 diversion route - the A82 - was closed by flooding between Tarbet and Crianlarich for a time this morning.

The A835 Inverness-Ullapool road - the main route for the Stornoway ferry - was shut by a landslide for a time at Garve, with one lane now open and controlled by traffic lights.

Police Scotland said the A890 was closed between Ardnarff and Atterdale, east of Stromeferry following a “large landslide”.

The rail line at Garve on the Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh line could be closed for several days following a landslip under the single track.

The Glasgow-Dumfries line was also shut near New Cumnock in East Ayrshire after trees and debris slid onto the tracks.

Other main roads flooded included the A8 in Greenock and the A85 between Lochearnhead and Crianlarich.

The incidents came hours after the A82 was re-opened following a series landslips south of Fort William.

A total of 31 flood warnings were in force, most across the Highlands and Perthshire, where the Scottish Environment Protection Agency said flooding was expected and immediate action was required.

Transport minister Keith Brown said the weather was finally improving, but warned that more rain was forecast.

He said: “While the weather will be better over the next few days, we are expecting more wet and windy conditions towards the end of the week.

“A substantial amount of rock and mud has been dislodged from the hillside above the Rest and Be Thankful due to the significant rainfall in the last few days.

“While some of it has reached the road, a great deal of the debris has been caught by the netting that Transport Scotland has installed as part of its landslide mitigation measures in the area.”

He said the Scottish Government had spent nearly £8 million on the A83, including on landslide mitigation work.

The next stage of the project, in Glen Kinglas is due to be completed by next summer.

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Many areas have seen heavy rain in the last few days and localised flooding later today remains possible – especially in the Inverness area.”

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor said: “Local businesses and residents will be very frustrated that despite significant investments in the A83 at the recognised problem areas, the road is once again closed after the first really severe wet weather of this winter.

“It emphasises yet again that ministers will need to take further action to put in place both contingencies and a robust and practical long-term plan that seeks to prevent landslips closing the A83.

“The road is vital to the whole economy of Argyll and Bute, and we simply cannot afford to see these kinds of closures.”