Last Monday around midday, along the tortuous single track road from Salen, the sole vital access for doctors, emergency services, care workers, first responders, ambulance services as well as for small local deliveries, postal services, bus route and much more besides, visitors and residents who enjoy this unspoilt place will have met a huge bulk tipper, a returning delivery wagon. Of a size and type seldom seen along our narrow, blind, twisting haphazardly graded peninsular road - however common along motorways and the A9 - this six-axle bulk tipper had presumably just discharged malting grain at Glenbeg.
One miracle has happened already: somehow this distillery has been built without life changing incident along the roads that lead to it from the A82.
This slow operation industry will attract a steady flow of heavier traffic which must now become commonplace. The law of averages dictates that West Ardnamurchan’s residents and visitors will too often discover they really do live on an island. Councillors and local planners, perhaps blinded by wealth, and by the prospect of local spend and local jobs all powered so greenly, must have discounted this potential for hiatus. Without their vote the distillery proposal for a place with such restricted access to very heavy LGVs could never have passed planning.
A fully loaded bulk tipper truck of the type spotted on Monday will weigh upwards of thirty five tons. It might weigh 44 tons, but ‘pray’ don’t let’s even go there. The nearest mobile crane capable of lifting a wagon of this sort will be stationed near Glasgow or Inverness, 4-5 hours distant on a good day. With poor foundations and limited hard standing space for stabilising jacks, positioning any crane along many parts of the B8007 will be risky enough. The work to recover an articulated lorry of this size, once it has overbalanced and its bulk cargo has shifted, may well require the malting grain to be fully discharged first, perhaps introducing fresh spores to this pristine area of prevailing salty westerly winds?
Should just one loaded wheel on just one of these trucks be misplaced or slip by a few centimetres? Or - heaven forbid - when winter water, frost and dark take a toll once more, should the road edge crumble and suddenly disintegrate?
Our ancient lifeline peninsular road was never designed for this. Is it only a few older highlanders and those with experience as professional transport drivers that can understand what may occur? Surely they were consulted? Did anyone listen?
Was planning for this uncalled-for development not conditional? What became of the notion that this malting grain should arrive by sea?
Editor's note: the trucks shown are illustrative; they are not the one described in the text.