The project to replace the historic Lossiemouth East Beach bridge has taken a massive step forward, with a contractor appointed to spearhead the design process.
The footbridge has been shut since last summer after falling into a state of disrepair.
It means there is now no safe access to the popular sands, with the council concerned for the safety of anyone who might attempt to use it.
That has been a huge blow to businesses who would ordinarily benefit from visitors seeking to enjoy the beach – and part of a double-whammy with Covid-19.
The Lossiemouth Community Development Trust has, however, been working to get a new bridge installed, with help from Moray Council and the Scottish Government.
Now, a contractor has been found to undertake an options appraisal and create a design for the proposed replacement.
This will be used to illustrate a business case required to secure Scottish Government funding.
Beaver Bridges were successful in the tendering process and will now work with the council and the local community to help deliver the replacement bridge.
‘The sooner the better’
This has been welcomed as “excellent news” by Rab Forbes, chairman of Lossiemouth Community Development Trust’s bridge committee.
He said: “This shows that good progress is being made on the project and commitment shown by Moray Council in moving this project forward.
“We are quite relieved that despite Covid-19 the bridge is still under progress and all of the locals can be reassured that it is happening.
“The Development Trust hope we can have access to the beach restored by the end of next year, but obviously the sooner the better.”
Beaver Bridges will assess the current state of the bridge and then come up with a design that will is best suited for the replacement.
The Development Trust helped to raise about £80,000 for the options appraisal.
It is hoped that construction can start on the replacement by the start of next year.
‘Lossiemouth East Beach project more important than ever’
Lossiemouth councillor John Cowe welcomed the latest news and said the community was looking forward to seeing the project progress.
I’m delighted to see the contract has been rewarded and now they can get going with the options appraisal,” he said.
“The community of Lossie need to see this new bridge installed as soon as possible so access can be restored to the beach.
“It’s been a very rough time for everyone here, with the summer being so lovely, a lot of tourists have came to the town and not been able to experience the full beach.
“They have gone to Burghead and elsewhere instead.”
Also welcoming the project’s progress was Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who said: “With the impact on hospitality of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lossiemouth bridge project is more important than ever to support economic recovery in Moray in the coming years.
“This is an iconic part of our beautiful Moray coastline and the awarding of this contract is a vital step towards replacing the footbridge at Lossiemouth and reinstating access from the town to the East beach.
“It is vital that everyone keeps their foot on the gas to get the new bridge in place as quickly as possible.”