Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Holding the MoD to account

North West Sutherland Councillor George Farlow and I have written to the Ministery of Defense following up on last Wednesday's accident on Laxford Bridge. The MoD must take responsibility for this incident which nearly killed 3 soldiers and debilitated a lifeline road into the north of Scotland.

Their insurance money should be used in full to repair the bridge and substantially improve its approaches, especially given their long-term and continued use on this route. In the meantime, HGV traffic serving ports of Lochinver and Kinlochbervie face a detour of 50 to 100 miles because only vehicle under 7.5 are able to use the damaged bridge right now.

George and I are asking that the MoD act positively, and give something back to the community it utilises so heavily. The wear and tear which the MoD's exercises put on an infrastructure in the North West, which it was never meant to bear, is worrying at the least. I fear that there could be further instances such as those that happened last week which could have far worse consequences. It is time that the MoD takes responsibility for the pressure it puts on the roads and bridges of North West Sutherland. Repairing, strengthening and improving Laxford Bridge is a good way to start.

Such responsibility is not without precedence. Local authorities regularly put demands on developers to upgrade infrastructure before planning permission is granted, so it asking the MoD to upgrade the infrastructure to complement their uses, the transport of 1,000 pound gun transporters for example, is a reasonable ask.

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