An Open Letter to the Transport Minister

18 Apr 2023

Letter in The Oban Times and sent to Kevin Stewart MSP (Transport Minister), 20th April 2023

Kevin Stewart MSP
Transport Minister
Scottish Government
EH99 1SP

Dear Minister,

Open Letter

I am a Highland Councillor for Fort William and Ardnamurchan but I write on behalf of all West Highlanders, there are few of any political persuasion who would not support my request below.

Over the last year, despite letters from Kate Forbes, leader of the Highland Council, and Community Councils we were unable to get the former Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth to come and meet to discuss the roads and ferries.

Scotland has seen £20 billion of infrastructure spend, within Transport there have been a new Forth Road Bridge, Edinburgh Trams, the M8, M73 and M74, the Dundee Waterfront and Aberdeen bypass and two of the ten sections of the A9 dualled.

The West Highlands has seen next to nothing in decades.

I would like you and the Finance Minister Shona Robison to come and spend a day in Fort William for a Highland Transport Summit. You will know that Tourism is the lifeblood of the Highlands. Please choose a day soon and we will pull together a hundred relevant people. Your team could make a presentation on each of the following areas followed by a Q&A. The day should be about action and timetables rather than reviews and consultations.

The following issues should be on the agenda.

  1. Corran Crossing. Transport Scotland repeats that this is a Highland Council issue. However the current £70m proposal for two electric ferries and shore infrastructure is well beyond the funding ability of the Highland Council, and almost three times that of the highest sum awarded by the Westminster Levelling up Fund. We would like a tunnel or bridge replacement to be on the agenda.
  2. The A82 from Tarbert to Ardlui alongside Loch Lomond is the main access route to the West Highlands and Islands. It has been due to be re-constructed by the Scottish Government for two decades. This is a dangerous and frightening way for tourists to enter the Highlands, and unfit for buses or trucks.
  3. The A83 ‘Rest and be Thankful’ road; plan and timetable for a permanent solution.
  4. The Caledonian Ferries. After twenty years during which replacement ferries have been ordered much less frequently, what is the plan to accelerate the fleet replacement?
  5. The A82 through Fort William. In peak summer there are 90 minute delays to get through the town. The possible solution would be a tunnel under the existing waterfront bypass with the land above being given over to affordable residential, retail, a 4* hotel and promenade, giving the town its shore back.
  6. Tunnels are the norm in many countries, the Faroe islands are connected by tunnels. A Sunday Times freedom of information request last June revealed that Transport Scotland had employees looking into tunnels. And tunnels were costed at £10million per kilometer. Could a presentation be made on tunnels please?
  7. Rubbish along Bear Scotland Roads. Our major roads are strewn with rubbish, apparently Transport Scotland spends £40 million a year on collecting rubbish. Not in the Highlands it seems. Terrible for tourism. What is the plan here?

Yours sincerely

Councillor Angus MacDonald

Cc. Bill Lobhan, Leader Highland Council; Kate Lackie, CEO Highland Council; Kate Forbes MSP; Frazer Coupland, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce; Donald Cameron MSP; Press.


Angus MacDonald
Highlands Liberal Democrat Councillor and Westminster Candidate

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