Rail bosses are expected to get approval for a long-awaited bridge at a Highland level crossing which was the scene of a fatal crash.
Network Rail have submitted renewed plans to the Highland Council for the closure of Delny level crossing in Easter Ross, following concerns over its safety.
Developers are proposing to construct a new single carriageway over the rail bridge, adjacent to the level crossing, before closing the existing structure with appropriate fencing and signage installed.
The proposals, which will go before members of the north planning applications committee on Tuesday, have been recommended for approval.
Network Rail anticipate grounds works on the project will commence in the coming months, with completion no later than early next year.
The Highland Council’s acting head of development management said: “As presented in the supporting information, such crossings do pose a significant safety risk and the replacement of the level crossing at Delny is understood to have been long been supported by the Community Council following a double fatality of two teenagers in 2007.
“The key considerations in this case are whether the design of the replacement road/bridge addresses the requirements of the Council’s Roads Guidelines for New Developments, the visual impact of the proposal and associated amenity impact as well as whether it will result other material considerations namely drainage and impact on protected species.”
Local residents have long been campaigning for action by rail operators following the deaths of two teenagers.
Alan Thain and Paul Oliver, both 17, were killed in February 2007 when a car in which they were passengers was driver into an Inverness to Wick train.
A safety report, published by the Rail Accident Investigation Board in 2011, found Delny presented an “enhanced likelihood” of a collision between a train and car.
Alterations were made to the Highland crossing in an effort to address the concerns with the installation of a half barrier system on the tenth anniversary of their death.
The proposals to close the crossing were first highlighted in 2018 following the submission of a scoping application to the council.
This was followed by the submission of a full planning application which was later withdrawn.
A number of objections were received against the renewed plans from nearby neighbours citing issues such as its positioning, road safety and noise and disturbance.
Stephen and Alison Ilett and Lily Goring say the proposed “eyesore monstrosity” is unnecessary and would be impose on their privacy, whilst bringing increased traffic flow to the area.
In a letter they wrote: “The proposed bridge is an eyesore monstrosity which is very close to our property (within 50m) and will be clearly seen from all aspects of our property bar the front elevation.
“It will enable all the occupants in passing vehicles and pedestrians to look into our property and see directly into the kitchen.
“If a bridge is necessary then we consider that it is too close to our boundary and should be moved further away as originally planned although it would still be an eyesore in a rural aspect.”
The added: “In simple terms we do not want a bridge or new road and consider that one is not necessary given that barriers have been installed since the fatal accident and are working without incident.”
The development form part of a decade-long programme of work by Network Rail to reduce the safety risks at thousands of level crossings across the country, including Delny.