£1m Forth Road Bridge banner sparks safety fears

There are fears the giant banner could blow off and cause an accident on the carriageway below. Picture: Ian Rutherford

There are fears the giant banner could blow off and cause an accident on the carriageway below. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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RADICAL plans to erect a giant £1 million advertising banner on the Forth Road Bridge have been slammed as a “gimmick” and a case of “putting money ahead of driver safety”.

The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) wants to hang a 22-metre wide banner across the south tower – directly in motorists’ line of view – to help pay for the structure’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The advertising space, which would carry the name of a single corporate sponsor, will be visible to traffic from either side of the crossing and hang from January to September.

Bridge chiefs hope to rake in up to £1m from the deal.

But Brian MacDowell, from The Association of British Motorists, slammed the plans.

He said: “This is a stunt and a gimmick which doesn’t seem to serve any purpose other than moneymaking. Surely there are other ways of hosting their festivities without putting drivers’ safety at risk. A banner of that size would be distracting.”

This view was echoed by Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, who said: “The Forth Road Bridge is an old-fashioned dual carriageway and you need your wits about you when crossing it.

“Driver safety should be paramount and should not be compromised just to fund anniversary celebrations.”

Worst-case scenarios include the banner ripping loose and causing a multi-car pile-up.

Organisers are banking on the revenue achieved from selling the ad space and would be forced to scale back fireworks planned for September 13 if the plan falls through.

FETA officials themselves have voiced concerns over whether the banner can be safely secured given the high winds that batter the crossing.

A spokesman admitted erecting the banner would not be straightforward “because we can’t close the bridge to do it”.

He said: “It’s not something we’ve ever done before, so there’s work to be done on the practical aspects. The problem is how we physically get something up the tower.”

The spokesman said the banner would not be a distraction to motorists while they were on the bridge.

But PR guru Charlie Mann said that while the banner would be seen by thousands of motorists each day, any possible accidents occurring as a result would be a “PR disaster”.

Marion Williams, director of city heritage body, The Cockburn Association, has also questioned the “double standards” of bosses currently seeking World Heritage Site status.

EVA SO DANGEROUS . .

ROADSIDE advertising distracted drivers most famously during the 1990s when a ten-foot high billboard featured Czech model Eva Herzigova in Wonderbra’s “Hello boys” campaign. The ad sparked a sensation when it was unveiled in 1994 and was blamed for stopping traffic and causing accidents as commuters stared at the huge posters.