Contractors have promised residents in a north-east seaside town they will take “every effort” to protect a historic bridge as work on a £16 million flood scheme progresses.
Assurances have been given by McLaughlin & Harvey that the 18th Century White Bridge in Stonehaven will be cared for after its removal next week.
The C-listed crossing from Cameron Street to Arbuthnott Street is made of cast-iron sections, and residents have raised concerns about the removal process.
Stonehaven was hit by floods in 2009 and 2012 when the River Carron burst its banks.
Northern Ireland-based McLaughlin & Harvey are carrying out the work on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council.
A specialist company is expected to remove the bridge on behalf of the contractor.
Sheila Tolmie, community liaison officer at the contractor, said: “We want to reassure residents that McLaughlin & Harvey as the contractor recognise the importance of the bridges in Stonehaven to the community.
“The council took the removal and replacement of the bridges into consideration during the design process.
“We will make every effort to protect the existing characteristics of the town.
“We have to protect the White Bridge as much as we can as the area it is situated in is in the heart of the whole scheme.
“It is in everyone’s best interests that the bridge is taken away and stored carefully before being put back into place.
“The bridge will be raised, it won’t be as it is at the moment, and it is the design the council has approved.
“Every effort will be made to make sure it is kept safe and it will be carefully restored before being put back into place.”
Diggers have been spotted in Stonehaven working in the river as the multi-million-pound scheme progresses.
New pictures have revealed the contractor’s progress on flood defences.
The removal of trees at the site is almost complete, with the main construction work starting in the coming months.
It is expected the bridge will be reinstalled after a year.
Councillor Sarah Dickinson, who represents Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, said: “Although it is still early days the sense of the project now progressing is quite tangible as trees and vegetation have been removed around the Green and White bridges and down river, between the beach and Bridgefield bridges, there is a lot of activity in and around the river.
“I have been regularly popping down to have a look at how things are changing in these different locations.
“Lots of residents are also stopping to watch proceedings and I know from passing conversations that they sometimes have concerns and often have questions about the scheme.
“As a result, I would want residents to know that the scheme’s community liaison officer would be happy to hear from them and to address those questions or concerns.
“Ultimately, this is about protecting homes and businesses from any future flood event and bringing that security to those who experienced the devastation that the flooding of the river has caused in the past.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokeswoman said: “Works on the Stonehaven Flood Protection Scheme are progressing well.
“The removal of various trees and bushes is almost complete, and we are working closely with the contractor.
“The main construction work along the River Carron is expected to commence in the coming months alongside works to carefully remove the White Bridge for refurbishment.
“We would like to thank the public for their ongoing co-operation.”