Bid to get cycle route after ten-year wait

The beach at Gullane. Picture: Colin Hattersley
The beach at Gullane. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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A NEW cycle route linking two beauty spots is set to be created under decade-old plans to boost transport links in East Lothian.

Cyclists have been pressing for a bike-friendly link between Drem and Gullane amid concerns about travelling on “notoriously dangerous” 
main road to Drem railway station.

A campaign to connect the districts was launched around 2004 as part of moves to improve cyclist safety and boost the number of daytrippers to Gullane.

But the 3.5km route cycle path lay unfinished after a farmer withdrew permission to build on a crucial stretch of land.

Now, after talks which have been ongoing for almost five years, an alternative route has been agreed that could see the long-awaited cycle path brought into use.

Campaign leader Iain Monk is hopeful the plan will go ahead but admitted the ball is “completely in the council’s court”.

“People in Gullane and Drem have been waiting nearly ten years for a safe route away from dangerous roads,” he said.

“East Lothian Council ditched the original plan to build that path, and so we’ve been missing this vital link between our two villages for too long. Now, the landowner has kindly agreed to free up land for the final section to be built and this has overwhelming support from the campaign.”

And he added: “This is the last throw of the dice for us. We’ve exhausted every single option for this path, and if the council refuses to back the compromise. That will have been ten years completely wasted.”

The proposed new route has been presented to East Lothian Council – which previously set aside £30,000 to complete the path – fuelling hopes that the missing 1.2km of cycleway might be finally going to be installed.

But Jeremy Findlay, chair of Gullane Community Council, said he was unsure whether officials would be willing to back the compromise.

“There is limited parking at Drem railway station, and so many commuters rely on cycling to access it day-in and day-out,” he said.

“The demand is certainly there for a safer route linking the two communities but in recent years there has been a lot of opposition to the plans, not only among landowners but among property owners whose homes run adjacent to the proposed route.

“I don’t know whether this new option will have changed their opinions.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said that without the agreement of “everyone affected” by the route it could be impossible to complete the project.

It is understood officials have yet to review the latest proposal.