A new report published today puts 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. Around 40 consultations with key stakeholders and representatives from the local business community were undertaken, as well as a review of existing evidence and case study comparators.
It identifies a number of transport constraints in Argyll and Bute and highlights that, alongside investment in skills, digital connectivity and key sectors; investment in transport can play a significant role in wider efforts to encourage population and economic growth in Argyll and Bute.
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.
The full report can be accessed via the HIE website at www.hie.co.uk/argyllandbuteresearch