The main road through a Highland village will close for more than three months from today as work begins on a pipeline for a sewage plant expansion.
Stuart Street in Ardesier will be shut until May 22 as part of Scottish Water’s project to upgrade the water mains on the Fort George side of the village.
Campaigners against the project were due to hold a three-day beach protest at the weekend but it was cancelled because of high winds.
Abby Reardon, chairwoman of the Ardersier Foundation, said the event would go ahead on another weekend in the coming weeks.
Scottish Water’s plans have been controversial with campaigners, who have urged the utility company to consider alternative technology.
Scottish Water says the upgrade is needed to accommodate a growing population in the area, including from the developing Tornagrain new town.
Objectors to the waste treatment plant have concerns about the impact of foul smells on tourists visiting Fort George and an increase in heavy traffic through the village – and they still believe there is time to reverse the £11million plans.
Members of the foundation want Scottish Water to hold talks with the community to discuss the possibility of using reed bed systems, which use vegetation in ponds to convert ammonia from sewage to produce clean water.
They say the technology is easier to instal and less costly.
But Scottish Water has said its technology is recognised industry-wide as proven and an environmentally responsible approach for treating wastewater which is appropriate to the area.
Work started in December to instal specialist UV equipment designed to improve water quality before it is discharged into the Moray Firth.
Today, as the work progresses on the pipeline, Stuart Street will close from its junction with Nairn Road to where it meets Ardersier’s High Street.
Emergency services vehicles will be exempt from the orders at the discretion and instruction of the contractor.
Access to properties will be controlled by the contractor and pedestrian access will be maintained.