Tunnel under the Rest and Be Thankful proposed by Argyll and Bute Council

One of the options put forward for fixed links from Cowal

A bid for council funding to support plans for tunnels or bridges from the Cowal Peninsula has been rebuffed for a second time.

And Argyll and Bute councillors have said instead of crossing the Clyde or Loch Long, a tunnel underneath the Rest and Be Thankful should be the top priority.

As reported here, the Cowal Fixed Link Working Group requested £3,000 each from the council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Transport Scotland so that it could become formally constituted.

In 2016 the council ‘kicked into the long grass’ a request from the group for £50,000 to fund a feasibility study, and at last week’s meeting the new request was denied, with councillors saying if the project went ahead it should be funded nationally.

They said that other transport issues as ferries to Dunoon and landslides on the A83 affected the area and pointed to a HIE report saying fixed links brought risks as well as benefits.

But they also noted that in the Faroe Islands tunnels could be constructed for £11m per kilometre, so asked executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne to write to the Scottish Government asking it to ‘urgently investigate’ the feasibility of tunnels at the following locations e, in order of priority:

  • At the A83, near the Rest and be Thankful, where the road is most prone to landslides
  • From Gourock to Dunoon, and on to Bute
  • Across Loch Fyne

They also suggested that the Fixed Link Working Group could apply for funding of up to £2,500 via the Supporting Communities Fund

Last year the group produced maps showing a range of tunnel and bridge options, some going via Kilcreggan – where a railway station was mooted – Garelochhead or Helensburgh.

Despite the failure to win funding last year, the group met transport minister Humza Yousaf, with local MSP Mike Russell, at Holyrood earlier this year.

It is now proposing that it becomes formally constituted, on the lines of the Border Railways campaign, and wants to appoint Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute as advisers.

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