FIRST LOOK: New Union Canal bridge to connect new Edinburgh Wavegarden surfing centre

COUNCIL chiefs are drawing up plans to connect a new surfing centre with an international climbing arena by building a bridge across the Union Canal.

Initial designs for the Ratho Union Canal bridge and zig-zag path, Picture: Sweco UK Ltd
Initial designs for the Ratho Union Canal bridge and zig-zag path, Picture: Sweco UK Ltd

The initial proposals being put together would lead to a shared cycling and pedestrian zig-zag path and bridge being formed west of Ratho – creating access for the state-of-the-art Wavegarden surfing centre, set to be built at the old Craigpark Quarry site. The new bridge would also better connect the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena to the path – encouraging people to use active travel to visit the facilities.

Work to build the new Wavegarden, which will generate 1,000 waves an hour on an artificial lake, is set to begin soon – with the project due to open its doors to the public in the spring of 2021. The developers behind the scheme expect to create 130 jobs and say it will tally up £11m every year to the local economy.

But early proposals for the bridge and new zig-zag cycle path, subject to a public consultation before an official planning application is drawn up, could include the loss of 65 trees from a woodland to make way for the new connection and paths.

Around 65 trees could be chopped down for the bridge and zig-zag path, Picture: Sweco UK Ltd

Transport and environment vice convener, Cllr Karen Doran, said: “If approved, this bridge would provide a much-needed active travel link from the Union Canal tow-path to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA), as well as connecting proposed country park and Wavegarden to the south.

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“Integrating active travel routes with sports facilities like the EICA makes total sense and, thanks to funding for the design process from Sustrans, we anticipate that this scheme, if it goes ahead, would encourage more people to walk or cycle to make use of this excellent facility.”

It is not yet known when a planning application for the bridge will be officially tabled or how much it could cost.

The 26-metre bridge would be linked to the existing Union Canal tow-path by a new cycleway ramp. It is proposed that that four-metre wide structure will be built out of weathering steel main girders and recycled plastic with timber effect deck planks and parapets.

The city’s canal champion, Cllr Gavin Corbett, said: “The wave park proposals bring the prospect of a canal-centred hub, linking the climbing centre, the wave park and Bridge 8 Hub by the bypass, which would really promote active lifestyles. But it would be ironic if that simply led to more cars driving to the facilities.

“At the same time, in building the new path and bridge, any tree loss should be kept to a minimum and should be replaced more than one to one. Now, of all times, is when the world needs more trees.”