Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has expressed concerns about the slow progress to finally make safe the Stromeferry bypass.

The Highlands and Island representative believes an upgrade is now long overdue and despite the £100 million pricetag believes the whole process has gone on long enough.

She said: "As you will know I have been involved in community discussions around the Stromeferry bypass upgrade, or replacement for several years now and to be honest I am concerned that talks seem not to be getting anywhere fast and if this key issue surrounding this vital link road are not kept high on the agenda, it could likely get kicked into the long grass.

Rhoda Grant MSP

"The existing Stromeferry Bypass has been subject to a number of landslide and rock fall events over the past few years causing temporary closures, requiring a 140 mile diversion. There have been all sorts of studies carried out as to how best to deal with this very serious issue.

"Let’s face it, apart from all the commuters that use this route, there is the school children who are transported along it every school day from Lochcarron and wider afield. I am really concerned that if we do not get a plan in place as to how best we can upgrade or re route this particular road, then it will continue to be a case of an accident waiting to happen with serious consequences.

"The authority is in discussion with Transport Scotland to look at ways to fund the work, but progress has been slow.

"Transport Scotland has indicated that if any Scottish Government assistance were to be considered for the scheme (by way of funding) it would only include those parts which satisfy the more targeted Transport Planning Objectives to overcome the rock fall area. The STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) is therefore being re-drafted to address only those areas which satisfy these revised Transport Planning Objectives.

According to the MSP, the STAG appraisal process is undertaken in two progressive phases. I understand that the Part 1 Appraisal is an initial appraisal of the options generated during Pre-Appraisal and involves a qualitative assessment of the likelihood of such options being able to meet the Transport Planning Objectives. I believe the Part 2 Appraisal requires a more detailed appraisal of options and includes a detailed analysis of an option’s performance against the stated Transport Planning Objectives, STAG Criteria (environment, safety, economy, integration, accessibility and social inclusion), Cost to Government, and Risk and Uncertainty.

She added: "I have been advised the re-drafted STAG Part 1 Appraisal was completed in March 2016. A meeting was held with Transport Scotland in March 2016 where it was confirmed that the report satisfied their requirements, clearly analysed the problems and set out the revised Transport Planning Objectives.

"Work is ongoing on the more detailed STAG Part 2 Appraisal to examine the remaining options in the North, Online and South Corridors which will include further meetings with Transport Scotland to present and agree the limits of the options. It is anticipated that the work required to refine the options, undertake the assessments and prepare the STAG Part 2 Appraisal will be complete by Spring 2017.

"I appreciate that finance is one of the main issues,” said Rhoda Grant, “as about £100 million is required.

"The road is the main link between Lochcarron and Kyle, Plockton, Skye. It is well used by commuters and school children who travel by coach every day to Plockton High School. Allied to this is the fact that this route carries traffic going to the Western isles via Uig in Skye, so these factors make this route a trunk road and a lasting solution needs to be agreed and a safer route built, otherwise we are continuing to put people who use this road at risk.

"I just ask all users of this route to be careful at this time of year especially, as it is around this time in the past that there have been rockfalls."