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Major flooding hits Scotland and borders

UK: Main north-south route closed till new year

This weekend saw chaos on Scottish roads as the Forth Road Bridge, the main artery taking people and goods north of Edinburgh and back was suddenly closed for serious structural repairs and will not open before the new year. Approximately 100,000 vehicles use the crossing each day.

Brian Kenny from the Road Haulage Association for Scotland said the bridge authorities are working hard to end this situation, but this will take a considerable amount of time. The Road Haulage Association for Scotland was this morning in discussions with the Scottish Government to find out what the impact of the closure would mean for the haulage industry.

"The RHA has asked the Scottish government for a relaxation of the rules on driver hours in order to make sure deliveries can get through and to ensure that drivers can make deliveries without breaching the law," said Kenny.

This morning an HGV and bus route was opened up from Cairneyhill in Dunfermline to Kincardine on the A985, the route however is one way, but it is hoped it will ease congestion southward, although Kenny admits there is still a problem getting lorries along to Rosyth. This route will be exclusively for HGV's and buses, no cars will be allowed on the road.

"We are waiting for feedback from our members to find out how that is working, we will know more later in the day. There are extra buses and trains being provided to try to move some of the commuter traffic off the diversion routes," explains Kenny.

There are other routes over the Firth of Forth, the main one being the Kincardine Bridge but this route is adjoined by A roads and not motorways, leading to slow moving traffic. Kenny said the M90 is a good route to choose to travel north to south but will add around 45 minutes to the journey, this is if the traffic is moving well, there is also a bottle neck at Broxden roundabout in Perth. He said everything is being done so that HGVs do not leave the A roads as they are not suitable for this kind of traffic.

The feedback so far from the hauliers is they were experiencing around 2-3 hours delay this morning.

The fact that it is so close to Christmas will only intensify the situation, Richard Binns, Transport Manager for Fowler Welsh in Washington, said the company normally does 10 runs per days but this goes up to 25-35 per day in the run up to Christmas.

"It will make the pre Christmas period much tougher than it normally is. With the diversions in place it is adding between an hour and an and a half to journeys each way. This will cost the company, both extra man hours and diesel throughout December. It will be challenging but it is do-able, everything is! It will just take more planning than normal."

Scotland and the borders were also dealing with Storm Desmond this weekend, which caused many bridges to close to high sided vehicles, some to all traffic for a short while on Saturday night. Heavy rain caused rivers to burst their banks and there was wide spread flooding in southern Scotland and Cumbria. In some areas the army was called in to evacuate people.

Peter Davis from Davis Worldwide said, "For the moment its too early to estimate what damage has been done, however we are concerned about the next low that will hit the region towards the middle end of this week which could see another 28mm of rain fall on an already saturated ground." He said the fields of carrots in the flooded areas will be affected if they are left under water for a length of time.

"The area will take at least 7/10 days to clear and get most of the roads back to normal, although in the storms some bridges and roads have been destroyed and will take longer. however there is a very good community spirit in the region and after talking with them this morning, the small shopkeepers are looking to open again as early as tomorrow."
He goes on to say that some of the larger supermarkets are reporting shortages of some products as people stock up after the storms, however they hope to get supplies back to normal by Wednesday.

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