Scotland's longest-running path campaign between Drem and Gullane hopes for 2021 win
Scotland’s longest-running path campaign is hoping the climate emergency and the upcoming COP26 summit will see the route between Drem and Gullane in East Lothian finally approved in 2021.
Their aspiration came as the battle for a safe alternative for cyclists and walkers between Drem railway station on the Edinburgh-North Berwick route and the seaside village of Gullane passed its 15th anniversary.
The four-mile path would bypass a busy road between the settlements to encourage more locals and visitors to switch from cars to bikes.
It is backed by local businesses, such as the The Bonnie Badger hotel in Gullane, owned by restaurateurs Tom and Michaela Kitchin.
The first section, in Gullane, is being built by housebuilders Cala as part of a new estate.
The campaigners’ optimism follows East Lothian Council and path developers Sustrans Scotland pledging to revisit the scheme after previous hold-ups.
Sustrans is considering a council funding application for the Drem section of the route, which would bypass the B1345.
Campaign spokesperson Iain Monk said: "As Scotland's longest-running campaign of its kind, our hope for 2021 is that a safe link connecting Drem and Gullane finally becomes a reality.
"The climate emergency is real and this is our community's attempt to turn the tide, to do our bit right now to tackle climate change and get people more active.
"It is vitally important to send a message to our children and grandchildren that we are taking steps now to safeguard their future - a future where mental and physical health and well being is valued.”
Mr Monk said the Covid-19 had been a further catalyst for “urgent change” because it had led to an increase in walking and cycling – “a demonstration that change in local travel infrastructure is possible”.
He said campaigners also hoped to attend COP26 summit – the 26th UN climate change Conference of the Parties – which is planned for November, “to tell our story, share a stage with world leaders and showcase our campaign as one spearheading successful climate action in Scotland”.
Cala said it had lodged a detailed planning proposal to extend the next part of the route from Gullane to West Fenton.
Its spokesperson said: “It will deliver this should it get the green light for a new development in Gullane for which it has planning approval in principle.”
An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: "We are awaiting confirmation from Sustrans of the process to fund feasibility work to take a fresh look at the potential options for developing a safer link to cycle between Drem and Gullane.
Sustrans Scotland said it would be “inappropriate for us to comment on ongoing applications”.
Director Karen MacGregor said: "At present, decisions need to be made about allocating limited funding to a growing number of projects on a case by case basis.
“If Scotland is to achieve its ambitious climate goals by 2030, and given that transport is the biggest source of emissions, we need to reduce our dependence on cars for shorter journeys.
"Having an active travel [walking, cycling and wheeling] highway network that links communities and connects to a wider network is an essential part of this.
"But this will require sustained investment on a significant scale.”
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