Call to speed up bridge plan
Pressure is being put on Highland Council to bring forward plans to replace an ageing north coast bridge.
The 138-year-old Naver bridge on the A836 near Bettyhill is included in the authority’s capital programme for replacement in five years’ time.
But local councillor Linda Munro and members of Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra Community Council say it should go ahead before then because of concerns over the structural integrity of the existing iron structure.
Cllr Munro says it is “hanging in rust” while the council points out that a damaged safety barrier and parapet at its eastern end have still to be repaired.
Fears over the bridge have been exacerbated by the prospect of an increase in traffic should the Melness spaceport development go ahead.
Naver Bridge was opened by the Duke of Sutherland in the spring of 1881 at which time it was described as “picturesque”.
Highland Council engineers examined the bridge in June 2009 and indicated then that load restrictions would be required within 10 years. A further examination in 2016 showed that little had changed in the intervening years.
Cllr Munro is calling on the authority to commission engineers to carry out another inspection of the bridge immediately.
The issue was discussed at last month’s community council meeting when it was agreed to lobby the council to try to get the plan for the new bridge brought forward.
Secretary Jim Johnston said community councillors had looked at the preliminary design report for the new bridge. The authority is recommending a two-span concrete and steel 84-metre bridge with 460 metres of approach works.
Westminster business and energy secretary Greg Clarke said at a spaceport information event that the government was aware of the need for infrastrcture improvements and would make financial provision.