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A9 closures at Berriedale as storm-damaged trees are removed

By Alan Hendry

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A fallen tree over a rusted and unmaintained snow gate at Berriedale. Picture: Matthew Reiss
A fallen tree over a rusted and unmaintained snow gate at Berriedale. Picture: Matthew Reiss

Storm-damaged trees are to be removed from alongside the A9 south of Berriedale next week.

It will mean road closures overnight from Monday evening through to Saturday morning.

The work is being carried out by specialist contractor Ayrshire Tree Surgeons on behalf of BEAR Scotland.

All storm-damaged trees will be removed mechanically with specialist equipment, according to the trunk road maintenance firm.

In an information letter, BEAR says: "Recent winter storms have damaged or uprooted a considerable number of pine trees on the south brae at Berriedale, causing travel disruption. BEAR Scotland recognises the effect this disruption has on the Caithness community.

"A large proportion of standing roadside pine trees within striking distance of the A9 need to be removed to improve network resilience. It is essential for safety that we put traffic management measures in place while we remove potentially hazardous trees.

"The works will be undertaken over five nights [from March 4] on the A9 south of Berriedale.

"To ensure the safety of the road workers and motorists, the works will be carried out under a full road closure with amnesty periods between 7pm and 6am. The amnesty periods for letting traffic through the closure will be on an hourly basis – the first amnesty period will be at 8pm and then at every hour after that.

"Please note that the above times are the maximum available working window, and we will endeavour to complete works each night as quickly and safely as possible. Throughout the works there will be levels of construction noise. This will be kept to a minimum whenever possible.

"We understand works of this nature can be disruptive and have planned works to minimise disruption as far as possible."

Highland councillor Matthew Reiss (Thurso and Northwest Caithness) has been calling for the issue to be addressed.

He said: “This work is years overdue – it is basic maintenance, not improvements. The A9 is our lifeline and maintenance of the road is not an optional extra.

"I am glad the work is finally happening and urge the Scottish Government to start carrying out modest improvements everyone can see are essential. These could comprise minor road straightening, better visibility, replacing cats' eyes and realigning the junctions at Latheron and Georgemas.”

In January, the Highland Alliance group on Highland Council – including Councillor Reiss – urged local MSP Maree Todd to intervene over the need for "basic maintenance" tasks along several stretches of the A9 in the north.

Issues they highlighted included a fallen tree over a rusted and unmaintained snow gate at Berriedale.

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