Construction is poised to begin on the new East Beach bridge in Lossiemouth after planning permission was granted today.
The Moray town has been devastated since the previous crossing was shut amid safety concerns in July 2019.
Now hopes have been raised the community will be reunited with the sands next year after plans were approved for a £1.8million replacement.
When will the Lossiemouth bridge be open?
Contractor Beaver Bridges expects to begin building the new bridge over the winter.
It is hoped the first people will walk across the River Lossie to the much-loved beach in spring next year.
Bollards will be put at the end of the bridge to prevent vehicles driving across with footpaths upgraded on the Esplanade to encourage people to walk across.
The bridge will be built slightly downstream from the existing bridge due to the span being slightly shorter, which will reduce construction costs.
🥳 New Lossie bridge granted planning permission!
More details and drawings of the proposed bridge⬇️https://t.co/g7XxfWECeL
— Moray Council (@MorayCouncil) August 3, 2021
Ahead of the decision, David Bremner, chairman of Moray Council’s planning committee, said: “It feels like this has been a long time coming but there are set processes we must follow to allow planning approval and I’m delighted for the Lossiemouth community that we’ve reached this milestone.
“The next stage is for the contractor, Beaver Bridges, to finalise and submit the technical information, drawings and permits required for the associated construction work.
“At this point everything is still on schedule for the bridge to be operational by spring 2022 and I look forward to seeing it progress over winter.”
‘A big thank you’
Lossiemouth Community Council has welcomed today’s announcement as “great news”.
Councillor John Cowe welcomed the application and highlighted the huge loss to the town’s economy that the bridge closure prompted.
He said: “The bridge has been closed for a long time and there has been a £3.1 million loss to the local economy as a result. The longer that goes on, the larger that figure will be.”
Councillor Ryan Edwards said it was brilliant to see the plan coming to fruition.
He added: “A big thank you needs to go to Lossiemouth Community Development Trust, Lossiemouth Community Council and Rab Forbes from the development trust for doggedly chasing this and ensuring there is connectivity with the east beach.”
The walkway will be finished with a specialist plastic coating, and new footpaths leading up to it will be put in place with existing ones upgraded.