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Highland contractor RJ McLeod wins multimillion-pound award to upgrade north roads

By John Davidson

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Sections of the road to Kinloch Hourn will be upgraded. Picture: Adobe Stock
Sections of the road to Kinloch Hourn will be upgraded. Picture: Adobe Stock

Minor roads in the west Highlands that offer vital routes for local people as well as access to remote mountains and glens are to be improved.

They include the road from Invergarry to Kinloch Hourn and the Glenelg road from Shiel Bridge in Kintail.

SSEN Transmission has awarded a contract for the public road improvements, which also include work on the Moll Road near Sconsor on Skye, to Highland civil engineering contractor RJ McLeod.

The multimillion-pound works form part of the electricity transmission network operator’s Fort Augustus to Skye 132kV powerline reinforcement project.

The works will include construction of new passing places, improvements to existing passing places, removal of vegetation, widening, resurfacing and the removal of rock outcrops that restrict line of sight on the roads.

There will also be strip widenings at identified pinch points as well as bridge, structure and cattle grid surveys and assessments.

SSEN Transmission said the works were required to enable the delivery of key components for the proposed Fort Augustus to Skye reinforcement project and that the road improvements would also enhance transport links for local residents and other road users.

RJ McLeod, which has a base in Dingwall, will also undertake access track maintenance as part of the contract, across private and Forestry and Land Scotland property, to improve existing access track conditions in preparation for main works construction traffic.

Assessment of existing bridges and structures will be carried out to determine the requirement for any further upgrades or improvements.

Deputy project director Paul Higginbotham said: “Replacing the existing overhead line from Skye to Fort Augustus is crucial in keeping the lights on for homes and businesses along its route and in the Western Isles.

“It will also enable the connection of new renewable electricity generation along its route, supporting Scotland and the UK’s energy security and climate change targets.

“Securing the support of RJ McLeod for carrying out public road improvements in advance of the upgrade work is a big step and demonstrates the positive economic impact that projects like this can have – supporting jobs in local businesses.”

Acknowledging the award of the contract, RJ McLeod’s north director Sandy Osborne said: “We are very pleased to be able to continue working with SSEN Transmission through the award of this public road improvement project which will provide enhanced road improvement works to the local communities of the western Highlands.

“It follows delivery of various energy sector projects for the wider SSE Group across the Highlands including Bhlaraidh and Stronelairg wind farms as well as previous public road improvements on the B851 and B862.

“An integral part of the project will be community liaison and protection of the environment and we will follow and build on the good practices deployed and refined on these and other Highland projects.”

In advance of the main construction phase of the Fort Augustus to Skye reinforcement project, SSEN Transmission and its main contractors, Balfour Beatty, GE, NorPower, Scottish Woodlands and Wood, are planning a series of “Meet the Buyer” events to promote local and regional supply chain and employment opportunities.

The first of these events is planned for February 27 at Broadford Village Hall.

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