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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-11042: David Stewart (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 4 September 2017

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason (a) large dumper trucks are being conveyed along the A82 for work in Glensanda quarry, reportedly causing severe traffic disruption during summer 2017 and impacting on the local economy and infrastructure, without discussion with locally-based roads policing officers regarding whether there are more suitable timings for this activity and (b) this traffic is necessary when all products to and from the quarry are exported by sea.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 14 September 2017

(a) Vehicle movements over certain dimensions or weights (generally referred to as “Abnormal Loads”) require formal approvals which involves the input of parties such as road authorities and emergency services. These approvals are based on the routes, dates and suggested times proposed by the haulier making the application. Once the application is approved, the final decision on the exact timing of movements rests with the Police service. This also includes any late changes due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather, other road incidents or plant failure.

For the Glensanda quarry, there have been movements of abnormal loads involving dump trucks and quarry equipment over several years to and from the quarry to other parts of Scotland and the port at Corpach.

The quarry dump trucks moved this summer were 5.54m wide had gone through the aforementioned approval process. They were moved under police escort at a time set by Police Scotland. Transport Scotland’s operating company, BEAR Scotland, was involved in the discussions on the timing of the movements and stated a strong preference for night-time movements, to lessen impacts on journey time reliability.

However, the primary concern of Police Scotland in the movement of any abnormal load is public and road user safety. We understand the decision on the exact timings for the Glensanda operations was made by the local Road Police team. It is understood that this decision considered safety concerns raised by their colleagues who had previously escorted movements of plant on that route in hours of darkness.

Police Scotland has now agreed that future police escorted moves take place in daytime off-peak (between 1pm & 2pm) to avoid peak-time congestion in Fort William. They will monitor and review this proposal prior to any future movements, which will avoid arriving in Fort William at peak times. BEAR will continue to work with Police Scotland and the haulier to minimise disruption and provide network updates to Traffic Scotland for public dissemination. All dump trucks movements are now complete but 3 movements of other plant is scheduled to move from October.

(b) Aggregate Industries (AI), which operates the Glensanda Quarry, is a key part of the local and regional economy in the Fort William area. AI does move material and equipment by barge between Glensanda and Barcaldine. However the ships used by the company which AI now employs to deliver the dump trucks have to use Corpach port (north of Fort William) as the harbour at Barcaldine cannot accommodate their vessels. Using Corpach aligns with the Abnormal Load Policy of using nearest ports to minimise road traffic. However this still requires the loads
to travel along the A828 and A82 through Fort William.