A controversial public art work planned for the banks of the River Ness poses a safety risk for anglers and the public, it is claimed.
Highland Council has started preparation work to install the Gathering Place, in the form of a curved wall, in Inverness ahead of a summer unveiling.
But Inverness Angling Club said it has been “kept in the dark” over crucial details and wants construction stopped until concerns are addressed.
The club argues the proposed wall extends further into the river than indicated in artist’s impressions.
It said that in moderate river levels, the water depth at the wall’s most extreme pillar would be more than 4ft. But the wall extends over 6ft 6in beyond this at a point where the bed of the river shelves into deeper water.
The club said this could risk the safety of anglers tempted to wade around the point of the wall to continue fishing.
Potential threat to safety
President Alex Elliott said: “We have always had serious concerns about the extent of the wall’s intrusion into the river. It is a potential threat to the safety of anglers.”
He said there is also a threat to the public as anyone falling off the wall may need rescued from fairly fast, deep water.
Mr Elliott said the club has been asking for months for detailed plans, but has only received artist impressions.
“As a result, we have been unable to assess the full impact of the project until now. These major concerns must be resolved before major construction works begin.
“We are disappointed by the council’s potentially unsafe decisions on this. Unlike others, we have raised no objections to the art project. We co-operated fully with the council and trusted councillors and staff to consider our interests.
“But it appears our trust has been misplaced and we have been kept in the dark over crucial detail.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said it is complying with the terms of the planning permission granted in 2019.
“Office bearers of Inverness Angling Club have confirmed to The Highland Council that they remain in support of the project.
“The council remains in discussion with Inverness Angling Club as a key stakeholder noting the importance of the site and their key connection with the river.”
The project has divided opinion. Supporters say it will be a unique asset, but others are against it, including Councillor Andrew Jarvie who called it an ‘unwanted concrete monstrosity’.