a FRASERBURGH councillor has expressed his fears that a 20-year long public campaign to build footpath links around a prominent Buchan coastline will not be fulfilled.
Around 1000 people have signed petitions calling for the creation of a footbridge, allowing for access to the Waters of Philorth which is situated around the villages of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy.
Fraserburgh and District councillor, Michael Watt, claims that the bridge is what people have wanted for more than 20 years, and that delays to build the bridge are disconcerting for locals.
He also believes that, although there are “considerable” costs involved, the benefits of the bridge would far outweigh the issues surrounding the proposal.
In a letter to the Fraserburgh Herald, he states: “I read with great interest the article from councillor Tait, “Philorth bridge request to Feuars”, this is a very welcome move and at last the views of the local people and the truth about the matter can be aired in the open. It should be pointed out that the “two petitions” consisted of almost 1000 people from the local area who would use the bridge.
“The preferred option for the bridge was well below the current road bridge, and the second choice was the bridge at the mouth of the river.”
“One issue omitted from councillor Tait’s comments was that not one person in the villages of Inverallochy and Cairnbulg has said no to a new bridge crossing, it’s what the people in the villages want and have requested for more that 20 years - yet it was never mentioned. This whole debate took place by people who do not live in the villages and it’s the people from Inverallochy and Cairnbulg who are most affected by the result,” he added.
Councillor Watt states that he “appreciates” that conditions have to be met regarding the planning process, but believes that a member of Feuars Managers, who manage the land, was not informed about the volume of people who signed the petitions.
Fraserburgh and District councillor, Ian Tait, who is also the chairman of the Philorth Management Group, has previously said on behalf of the group: “The Fraserburgh Feuars Managers have said three times that they will not give permission for a new bridge to be built because of the adverse effect on bird life, the adverse effect on the reserve as a whole, the costs, and the likelihood that the river will change its path.
“At their recent meeting, the Philorth Management Group (PMG) considered the question of whether there should be another bridge across the Philorth river on the seaward side of the road bridge to St Combs.
“The PMG also noted the two petitions in favour of a new bridge.”
Councillor Tait also noted that the most expensive option discussed by the group was in the region of £185,000 - which would involve building a new bridge next to the existing road bridge, and the cheapest option would cost £45,000.
When contacted, councillor Tait said he did not wish to comment on councillor Watt’s recent response to the article as he claimed “the process is ongoing”.