A new report has put the spotlight on links between transport, the economy in Argyll and Bute and the potential for investment to support future population and economic growth.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) commissioned ekosgen to carry out The ‘Argyll and Bute Transport Connectivity and Economy Study’. It forms part of wider efforts by HIE and partners to help address population decline and improve economic performance in the area.
The study focused on transport connectivity between the main population centres of Dunoon, Campbeltown, Lochgilphead, Oban and Rothesay, and from these onward to Glasgow. The study concluded that, in addition to current Scottish Government investment plans regarding the A82, A83, rail and ferry services, the following transport corridors be given further consideration:
* A85 – including access to Oban, to support growth opportunities, address concerns regarding congestion and improve journey times between Oban and Glasgow;
* A816 – to improve journey times and support economic growth along the Oban to Lochgilphead corridor and onwards to Kintyre;
* Dunoon-Colintraive-Portavadie (B836/A8003/B8000) – to remove the constraints posed by the single-track sections of this route and improve journey times across Cowal;
* Glasgow-Oban rail service – to reduce journey times.
Jennifer Nicoll, area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “Strong reliable transport links are critical to a successful and competitive region. Argyll and Bute has a wealth of opportunities for social and economic growth and clear potential to exploit our proximity to the Central Belt. The options outlined in this report will help inform our thinking, along with our partners Argyll and Bute Council, HITRANS and Transport Scotland as part of the wider strategy for growth in the area.”
The report also concludes that in the longer term an aspirational package of investment to develop a new east-west route, including fixed links across the Clyde and Loch Fyne, may be worthy of consideration.
Speaking following the publication of the report, Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said: “The report has identified a number of transport constraints in Argyll and Bute but that investment in transport can be a significant factor in the push to encourage both population and economic growth across our area. The report recognises the need to address journey times and remove any constraints on that existing infrastructure between Dunoon, Campbeltown, Lochgilphead, Oban and Rothesay to Glasgow. All of which is in addition to the existing Scottish Government investment plans for the A82/A83, rail and ferry services.
“I greatly welcome all efforts to address any factors which may be preventing attempts to tackle population decline across Argyll and Bute. I have seen first-hand, very recently, the positive contribution of RET to our more rural areas, and that is only one effort which is starting to take effect.”
The full report can be viewed by clicking here.