Home   News   Article

Lack of contingency plan for Caithness is 'an absolute disgrace,' says Thurso community council chairwoman

By Gordon Calder

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

THE lack of a contingency plan for Caithness when there is a severe weather or other major incident is "an absolute disgrace", according to a Thurso community councillor.

Thelma Mackenzie, who chairs the town's community council, hit out this week after hearing there appears to be no procedures in place should there be a problem with the A9 road.

Speaking at Tuesday night's meeting in the wake of Storm Babet which caused flooding and travel disruption in many parts of Scotland, including the far north, she said: "The A9 is the main artery to and from the north. It is an absolute disgrace if there are no emergency procedures in place."

Mrs Mackenzie spoke out after Thurso and Northwest Caithness Highland councillor, Matthew Reiss, said a document dating back over a decade – the latest he could obtain – stated that no alternative diversion has been identified should there be a problem with the A9 road.

He stressed that over 20,000 people live in Caithness and it has major employers such as Dounreay and Vulcan and many other businesses but the only alternative route to the A9 would be a very long detour along the north coast and down to Lairg.

The lack of a contingency plan for the A9 road is worrying Thurso community council. Picture: DGS
The lack of a contingency plan for the A9 road is worrying Thurso community council. Picture: DGS

Treasurer, Elspeth Husband, said: "It is important this is looked at quickly." She highlighted the problems expectant mothers face as many have to travel down the A9 from Caithness to give birth at Raigmore hospital in Inverness – an issue which has been highlighted by campaigners for many years.

Community councillor, Gill Arrowsmith, wondered what could be done to get Highland Council to do something on emergency plans.

Councillor Reiss pointed out that the Scottish Government is responsible for the A9 but said the local authority should be making representations to Ministers in Holyrood to do something about the matter.

His fellow Thurso and Northwest Caithness ward representative, Ron Gunn, suggested the community council could get in touch with the government in Edinburgh.

"There is nothing stopping the Thurso Community Council writing to the Scottish Government expressing its concerns about the emergency procedures," he said.

Mrs Mackenzie replied: "I think we should do that."

Earlier, Ian McElroy, a member of the public, highlighted the problems being experienced by the north rail network.

The line was affected by Storm Babet with flooding at Helmsdale and Rogart while other parts of the network were also impacted.

Mr McElroy said the rail line is close to the sea at Helmsdale and could be at risk due to adverse weather and climate change.

"It is very fragile and could go in years to come. Is there anything being done to remedy that," he asked.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More