Highlands & Islands

Highland construction body calls for West Link decision

River Ness at Holm Mill
Image caption One option for the route would have a bridge spanning the River Ness

A construction organisation has urged Highland councillors to make a swift decision on the controversial Inverness West Link road.

Three potential routes for the road, linking up the Southern Distributor Road to the A82, are being considered.

The Highland Building Employers Association said the West Link was first proposed in the 1970s.

It said the road would ease travel through the city and also open up new areas for development.

Highland Council's West Link working group will meet on 17 February before making a recommendation on its preferred option, or options, to the full council meeting on 1 March.

Association president Willie Gray, of William Gray Construction Limited, said a decision should be made before campaigning begins for local authority elections in May to avoid delays to the project starting.

He said: "We've already had more than a year go by while the project has been put out to public consultation and time is running out.

"If the council fails to make a decision on 1 March, we face another prolonged period of consultation after the council elections which will essentially put the project back to the drawing board."

Mr Gray added: "Even if a decision is made quickly, it will be a further four years before construction begins.

"If there is a further delay, I dread to think how long we will have to wait for the project to start. There's a real risk that we set the economic development of Inverness and the Highland region back by years."

High-level bridge

Plans for the West Link have been controversial.

Title deeds of land which could be crossed by the road are being re-examined by Highland Council.

This followed suggestions that land at the Bught could be common good land.

In December BBC research of the title deeds suggested the area should have that status.

Last month, chief secretary to the Treasury and local MP Danny Alexander clashed with Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown over funding of the West Link.

A new high-level bridge crossing the River Ness and Caledonian Canal is among three options being considered.

The estimated cost of that option is £67.8m.

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