Residents of a small community near Ellon have won their fight for a vital bridge link to be replaced.
Proposals for a new Mill of Leask bridge were approved by members of the Formartine Area Committee on Tuesday.
Councillors considered a report by officials which recommended the construction of a five metre span road bridge at an estimated cost of £150,000.
Design and construction is expected to take around nine months and be completed by the end of July 2014, subject to the required approvals.
Dave Forbes, a former economist, who compiled the community’s economic assessment, said that he is very happy about the news.
He told the Times: “My initial reaction to this very welcome news is one of relief – the Mill of Leask bridge is a vital artery for our community, and the notion that it might be permanently closed was unthinkable to many of us who used it regularly.
“I was - and remain - very impressed by the way the entire community of Leask Residents united over the bridge issue.”
Ellon and District Councillor Gillian Owen said: “The storms of December created damage all over the Shire and some areas received far more publicity than others.
“The Bridge at the Mill of Leask was one small area that suffered a huge amount of damage and the impact that it had on the locals was significant and I am pleased that Formartine Area Committee has been able to react to the needs of that community.”
The bridge was damaged in storms last year and demolished in January.
The community claimed that they were faced with higher fuel costs, longer journey times, problems with access for emergency services and more traffic on the Collieston road.
In August the council issued residents with questionnaires, proposing not to replace the bridge.
Concerned about losing their main link into Ellon, the residents responded with a letter, petition and their own economic assessment.
The community will have to endure another winter without the bridge, but that is something residents are willing to deal with.
Dave added: “The replacement bridge will not be operational until July 2014, which means that the Leask Residents face the upcoming winter ‘as is.’
“This may well incur intensified weather-related delay and inconvenience over the next four months but it will be much easier to plan for extended journey times, and ultra-conservative driving in bad weather, in the knowledge that - next winter - we will have our bridge back in operation.”