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Moray Council: Decision on Craigellachie bridge's future expected

By Hazel Lawson Local Democracy Reporter

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The bridge built by Thomas Telford at Craigellachie.
The bridge built by Thomas Telford at Craigellachie.

The future of Thomas Telford’s iconic bridge spanning the River Spey at Craigellachie could be decided next week.

Options on how to deal with the decaying structure will go before Moray Council on Wednesday.

These include a community asset transfer to allow an interested group to take responsibility.

But before that can happen the council will have to gain full property rights.

That could be done through a compulsory purchase order (CPO) which is expected to cost in the region of £23,000.

This amount would go towards paying for an external solicitor to deal with the process.

Costs would rise if there were any objections to the CPO.

However doing nothing would result in the bridge falling into such disrepair it would need to be demolished – leaving the council responsible for a bill of at least £1million.

In her report to Wednesday's meeting, consultancy manager Debbie Halliday said: "If works are not undertaken to address the condition of the bridge, it is likely it will need to be closed to all users at some point in the future and eventually demolished.

"The cost of demolition will depend on environmental constraints and market conditions when the works are required. However, it is likely to be in excess of £1 million."

Thomas Telford
Thomas Telford

When the bridge was built in the early nineteenth century, half the funds came from the government with the rest raised through public subscriptions.

This has caused confusion over who owns the bridge, and that uncertainty has blocked efforts by community group The Friends of Craigellachie Bridge to raise funds for much-needed conservation work.

Discussions have been held between the council and the group on the future of the span.

If the asset transfer route is chosen the council will need to be reimbursed for the cost of the CPO.

The single-arch cast-iron span was designed by renowned civil engineer Thomas Telford.

Built between 1812 and 1814, the bridge formed part of the main road between Elgin and Grantown.

It is the only bridge in the area that withstood the Muckle Spate of August 1829.

That flood devastated much of Speyside and Moray, with the rivers Findhorn, Lossie, Nairn and Spey all breaching their banks.

The bridge was closed to vehicles in October 1972, and is now a footbridge and cycle path.

Category A listed by Historic Environment Scotland, it has also been designated a civil engineering landmark by both the Institution of Civil Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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