Residents rail against plans to allow Sydney Harbour Bridge-style walks on Forth Bridge

Dozens of residents have objected to plans to allow 85,000 people a year to climb the Forth Bridge.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 4th October 2019, 7:22 am
Residents in the South Queensferry area fear visitors will swamp the town. Picture: TSPL

People living near the 129-year-old railway bridge in South Queensferry fear the visitor influx will swamp the town.

They claim the plans for Sydney Harbour Bridge-style climbs will cause parking problems and disturbance. Network Rail said there was a “real appetite” for what it described as a “unique and memorable visit to one of Scotland’s most loved structures”.

However, 60 people have lodged objections to a planning application for the scheme, against 15 posting their support, some from elsewhere in Scotland.

Their concern centres on a planned “bridge walk hub” between Dalmeny station and the bridge, where visitors would be kitted out and briefed for the £60-100 walks.

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Residents Louise Beattie and Helen Howden said concerns included increased traffic and the volume of cars that may park on the town’s streets. Fellow opponent Jeana Gorman said: “We are not naive enough to think it’s not going to go ahead, but we are trying to limit the effect it will have on the area.”

She said around 135 trees would be felled, which meant people using a new elevated walkway from the station to the centre would be able to see into houses and gardens.

She said the centre should instead be at the Queensferry Crossing contact and education centre beside the Forth Road Bridge, with visitors transferred by electric buses.

Fellow resident Graeme Pearson said: “The car park at Dalmeny station is always overflowing so cars park along the street, creating serious safety issues crossing the road and for emergency vehicles.”

Network Rail said the centre’s car park would be for pre-booked, time-limited parking.

Its spokesperson said: “The Forth Bridge Experience has the potential to provide a major economic boost to South Queensferry as well as opening up this iconic structure to visitors from across the world.

“We understand these proposals will raise questions for some residents and are committed to working closely with the council and the local community to deliver this project as sensitively as possible.”

Network Rail said its transport assessments showed there would be sufficient car parking spaces for visitors to the centre.

It said the car park would have a barrier to ensure it was properly used.

The bridge owner said all visitors would be issued with a pre-booked time-slot when buying tickets, “so visitor numbers would be spread evenly across the day”.

It said that would reduce potential overuse of the car park and walking routes.

Visitors would be encouraged to travel by public transport, such as by train to Dalmeny.

The public footpath network between the station and the bridge would be improved, with the existing path being “removed and planted, creating a wider green corridor between residents and the new footpath”.

Network Rail said the new public path would be constructed further away from properties than the existing one “and additional planting would be undertaken in the intervening gap.

“Mature trees will be maintained as much as possible around the site of the new hub building to provide natural screening.

“The proposed hub building is approximately 24m from the closest residential property and there will be substantial woodland planting in the intervening gap.”