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Sustrans Scotland has awarded East Lothian Council £30,000 to examine design options for the first section of a cycle and walking path connecting Drem to Gullane.
Campaigners are urging council leaders to finalise plans quickly and start construction of the climate-friendly path.
Drem-Gullane Path Campaign spokesperson Iain V Monk said: “This is thrilling news. Our persistence has paid off and this represents a huge milestone in our campaign for a safe path that can be enjoyed by everyone in our community, as well as visitors.
“The path will protect lives by keeping walkers, wheelers and cyclists away from the busy B1345 road, and encourage healthier and greener journeys between the villages.
”It's now vital East Lothian Council speeds up construction of this climate-friendly path."
Welcoming the news, in a joint statement, East Lothian MSPs Craig Hoy, Martin Whitfield and Paul MacLennan said: “This funding represents a major milestone in the long running community campaign for a safe link between Gullane and Drem railway station.
“It is essential that local families, and visitors to the area, are given a healthy alternative that will allow safe travel between the villages.
“An active travel network across the country will help reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality, which is why it’s vital that East Lothian Council and Sustrans continue to focus their efforts to ensure the whole route is constructed as soon as possible.”