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Merkinch Local Nature Reserve improvements up for public review

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Highland Council, in partnership with Sustrans, have published new details and visualisations for the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve (MLNR) Boardwalk project which is now up for public consultation.

The project involves upgrading the route between Carnarc Crescent and the railway crossing to an all-abilities standard, which will allow wheelchair and mobilty scooter access to the area as well as pedestrians and bikes.

It will also include the replacement of the existing ageing boardwalk, and will tie in with the access improvements currently being carried out by Scottish Canals. The new plans would see a sweeping, curved new structure that slopes gently from the sea wall allowing for better disabled access. The structure will also be made of recycled plastic to improve longevity and reduce maintenance.

Upgrades to the area will include the creation of an Active Travel Route by widening the pathways to accomodate wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

These improvements will help create an Active Travel route that will extend from South Kessock through Merkinch and towards the city beyond.

The route through will help to give locals and visitors opportunities to reconnect with nature and enjoy the waterside areas by the Caledonian Canal and within the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve.

Encourage public engagement with locals who are likely to make use of the improved spaces.

The project was funded through its design stage by Sustrans via their ‘Places for Everyone’ funding stream, Sustrans are also set to provide the majority of the £560K construction stage budget.

Highland Council has also allocated £100,000 Capital funding towards the project, and has been successful in obtaining additional funding from Inverness Common Good Funding (up to £45,000); Highland Coastal Communities Funding (up to £12,000) and Smarter Choices Smarter Places funding (£5,000).

The drawings and visualisations are on display at the Merkinch Community Centre and will remain there till next Tuesday August 17, to further enhance the reach of the consultation and encourage public engagement with locals who are likely to make use of the improved spaces.

Once Highland Council’s project team have received and reviewed comments from consultees, the design will be refined and a Planning Application submitted by early September.

This will provide a further opportunity for the public to comment of the project.

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