The Scottish Government has confirmed funding of £1.8 million to replace the Lossiemouth East Beach bridge.
Business leaders in the Moray seaside town previously revealed the closure of the town’s iconic footbridge had resulted in the local economy missing out on £1.5m annually in visitor spend.
The crossing to the sands was closed in July 2019 on safety grounds after enduring the weight of thousands of sun-seekers for years.
The East Beach used to be a popular spot for locals and tourists to visit in the summer months.
However since the bridge was sealed off, the number of tourists going to the seaside town and spending their cash at the local businesses has plummeted.
The Scottish Government had already committed to funding a replacement with a £1 million contract already awarded to design and build the structure.
Government funding confirmed for replacement bridge
Now, Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing has announced the award of government funding to replace the footbridge that is crucial to the local economy.
This comes after officials reviewed Moray Council’s business case which highlighted the bridge closure’s devastating financial impact on the town.
Mr Ewing said: “The Moray coast has long been a popular destination for visitors and I know the loss of the Lossiemouth East Bridge has taken its toll on the local community.
“Our £1.8 million funding for the replacement of the bridge will ensure locals and tourists alike can safely access and enjoy the beach once again.
“I know this news will be welcome for businesses too, who have suffered as a result of the bridge closure.”
The region’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, has welcomed the Scottish Government “coming to the rescue” by providing funding to replace the footbridge.
Mr Lochhead said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government has now confirmed substantial funding for the new bridge at the East Beach after, in my role as local MSP, I took the community’s case to Ministers when it became clear the current bridge was no longer viable.
“I know that the closure of the footbridge has had a significant impact on Lossiemouth’s economy and on local businesses, so I couldn’t be happier that the Scottish Government is coming to the rescue.”
Heldon and Laich councillor James Allan hailed community efforts in driving the campaign.
While Lossiemouth Community Development Trust’s Rab Forbes was “delighted” about the news after leading the quest to get beach access restored.
Mr Forbes said: “The development trust has been driving the campaign and we have been working with the Lossiemouth Community Council and Lossiemouth Business Association for last six months to get this resolved.
“Within a year and half to get funding approved is really pleasing for the town.”
Lossiemouth Business Association vice-chairwoman Val McLennan added: “That is fantastic news as although they made the commitment it was never in the bag as we had to prove it was a requirement for the bridge.
“I’m so happy for the likes of Rab Forbes who have been working on getting the bridge replaced.”
It’s anticipated contractors Beaver Bridges could complete the bridge by Spring 2022.