Campaigners spearheading a new cycle path linking Lossiemouth and Hopeman fear their 18-year fight could become a permanent stalemate without legal support.
Negotiations have secured access to almost all the plots needed for the seven miles with only Moray Golf Club and a local farm owner standing firm.
Charity Laich of Moray Active Travel Routes believes the missing link on the coast will secure the necessary funding to be built – but only if land hurdles can be overcome.
It says only a 16ft corridor is needed for the path that will be suitable for walking, cycling and wheelchairs to improve road safety.
The group fears an impasse could ensue without council support to secure the land – a move that has been dismissed as “financially reckless”.
What is needed to progress Lossiemouth to Hopeman path
The Lossiemouth to Hopeman cycle path was initiated by Moray Council as far back as 2006 as part of an “aspirational network” of active travel.
The short stretch is a missing link with almost the entire length of the Moray Firth coastline connected with accessible routes.
It was then revived in 2013 by the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust after it was identified as the second-biggest priority in the town – coming only behind securing the future of the East Beach bridge.
Funding from £100,000 has already been provided by Sustrans to do surveys and examine designs.
However, an impasse has now been reached surrounding the access to land. It is understood one of the main pinchpoints is the area near the fifth tee at Moray Golf Club, near the RAF fence.
Laich of Moray Active Travel Routes believes only a compulsory purchase or lease can provide a way forward.
Chairman Malcolm Campbell, who is a keen cyclist himself, said: “We need a legal process to get access to the land, which only the council can initiate.
“Once agreements are in place then we can go back to funders. At the moment none of the funders will give us money without the land.
“We’re confident of securing the money needed from the Scottish Government and approaching other funders.”
Moray Council ruled out supporting the project in May last year, describing it as “financially reckless” to support without more information about how ongoing maintenance would be funded among other issues.
Mr Campbell added: “I do have some sympathy for the council being understaffed and budgets being tight, and money having to come from elsewhere, but there is money being made available to specifically promote active travel.
“It can only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed. The council must reconsider its position and support this project.”
Road safety concerns between Lossiemouth and Hopeman
One of the key drivers of the Lossiemouth to Hopeman cycle path are fears surrounding road safety on the B9040 road linking the communities.
Hundreds of holidaymakers stay at the large Silver Sands Holiday Park every day during the summer, with many walking into Lossiemouth during their stay.
There are concerns erosion to the coastal path have made it unsuitable for prams and wheelchairs. The alternative route next to the B9040 has no pavement.
Speeding concerns are regularly reported on the stretch of road.
Carolle Ralph, chairwoman of Lossiemouth Community Council, said: “We really need to do something there before someone gets seriously injured.
“The huge expansion of Silver Sands has made it a bigger priority, it’s absolutely massive now.
“Through eight months of the year there’s rarely a day where groups of people aren’t walking into town along the road.”
Have your say on Lossiemouth projects
A coffee morning event is being held on Saturday at Lossiemouth Town Hall from 10am to 12noon for locals to have their say about the projects and issues that matter most to them.
Representatives from Lossiemouth Community Development Trust, Business Association, Community Council and Laich of Moray Active Travel Routes will be present.