A stricken community hopes to find out within days if it will receive funding from the Scottish Government to restore access to its busiest beach.
Lossiemouth’s East Beach Bridge has been closed amid safety concerns.
Campaigners had hoped they may qualify for crisis cash from the government’s Bellwin scheme, but Moray Council yesterday confirmed that option has been ruled out.
Now the group are anxiously waiting to find out if a separate application to the Scottish Government’s capital regeneration fund will be progressed.
During yesterday’s full council meeting, Heldon and Laich councillor Ryan Edwards pressed the authority to provide legal support and expertise to fill out funding applications – while also urging them to take ownership of any new crossing once it was built.
However, attempts to secure cash aid and Lossiemouth-based properties owned by Elgin’s common good fund were thrown out.
Mr Edwards said: “We have very few options now. The bridge must be reinstated one way or another and we should be asking central government or anyone else for help.
“This has been recognised as a serious part of tourism infrastructure and the photos don’t lie. The East Beach is undoubtedly the busiest beach in Moray.”
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
Lossiemouth previously received support from the Bellwin sheme, which is administered by the Scottish Government and predominantly supports communities affected by flooding and landslips, when its harbour wall collapsed after being pounded by a storm in December 2013.
However, Lorraine Paisey, the council’s head of financial services, explained it would not be suitable to seek funding from the pot on this occasion.
She said: “The scheme is an application for emergency responses to unusual events like bad weather events.
“The council has benefitted from the Bellwin scheme in the past so we have a good understanding of how it works. Erosion to the bridge wouldn’t qualify.”
The Lossiemouth Community Development Trust has raised about £75,000 towards paying for a replacement bridge, which is estimated to cost at least £500,000.
Warnings have also been issued that even if funding were secured imminently then it could take up to 18 months to complete the project once design, planning and construction issues were addressed.
Council leader Graham Leadbitter said support from central governments was more likely to be received from applications to specific funds or from agencies, including Highlands and Islands Enterprise, rather than direct appeals.
He added: “Council officers are working closely with the trust to work up an application to the Scottish Government’s capital regeneration fund. We are expecting to hear back from that very soon.
“We might have a clearer indication within a matter of days whether there is some traction in that.”