Lossiemouth residents have been told their view have been considered, despite concerns the new location for the East Beach bridge could bring traffic chaos to the seaside town.
It has been confirmed the Scottish Government-funded £1.8million crossing will be built from the Esplanade, near beachfront shops and cafes.
There are hopes the site will be a boost for businesses recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of the current lack of beach access, which is estimated to be costing the Lossiemouth economy about £1.5 million a year.
A community survey, however, found locals favoured replacing the bridge at its current location amid fears moving it will lead to a surge in traffic trying to secure parking spaces on the already busy Clifton Road.
Yesterday Lossiemouth Community Development Trust stressed it had made local opinion clear during the bridge’s options appraisal process – but had accepted a “best value” approach required to be taken.
Fly-through video number 1 for Lossie's East Beach bridge replacement 👇
Posted by Moray Council on Monday, March 1, 2021
‘Best value’ approach taken for Lossiemouth bridge
Rab Forbes, chairman of the trust’s bridge committee, said the bridge from the Esplanade will be shorter than the existing span, adding “That’s a fact”.
He said the trust had made clear the community’s preference to replace the bridge in its existing location, but “not at the expense of having no bridge at all”.
“I think people feel the community’s opinion has been ignored, but I can assure you that’s not the case,” Mr Forbes said.
“We made that point, and it was taken on board, but it was discounted.
“If there was an infinite supply of money then it would be from Seatown, but it’s a complex issue, and sadly there isn’t.”
We have received confirmation that the new Lossie Bridge will be built from the Esplanade.Beaver Bridges and the Moray…
Survey said new bridge should be in same place
The survey on the preferred location for the new Lossiemouth bridge garnered 1,348 responses.
Results were published in December and showed 63% wanted the current Seatown location, 19% favoured the Esplanade and 18% had no preference.
Meanwhile, an economic survey of local businesses has estimated the total annual loss to Lossiemouth, with no bridge at all, is £1.5 million.
The existing wooden bridge, which is more than 100 years old, was closed amid safety concerns after part of it buckled under the weight of beachgoers in July 2019.
Heldon and Laich councillor John Cowe has raised doubts about the chosen location’s vulnerability to the weather – but stressed restoring access to the beach must be the main priority.
He said: “The fact is we were told by the Scottish Government the funding was available, but it would be the cheapest option.
“The survey preferred Seatown but perhaps it’s better what you know than what you don’t know – the offer to fund the bridge is there and if we turn it down and say we want it somewhere else, perhaps the offer will be taken off the table.
“The bridge will be built directly opposite the two ice cream shops, cafes and restaurants, so it will certainly help to boost trade.
“Clifton Road is certainly busy enough with cars as it is at the moment so it will impact on where people can park.”
Information published at a Moray Council-run virtual exhibition of the proposed bridge designs, explained geological, flooding, tidal and environmental factors were looked at during the process.
Consideration was also given to the potential cost of securing land and increased traffic on Clifton Road.
A Moray Council spokeswoman said: “The option appraisal considered five options, including ‘do nothing’ and ‘do minimum’.
“The factors considered when assessing each option were cost, environmental impact, flood risk and ground conditions.
“The environmental impact, flood risk and ground conditions were very similar for all of the options, however, the costs for each option were significantly different. The benefits provided by each option are the same.
“The preferred option is the one that offers best value, which in this case is the option that has the lowest cost. The option with the lowest cost is construction of a new bridge at the esplanade and this was put forward as the preferred option and accepted on that basis.”