14 February 2024

Councillors debate Gorrachie Bridge petition

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee recently heard and debated a petition raised with regards to Gorrachie Bridge in the King Edward area.

Some 451 people signed the petition which asked that the council reinstate the funding previously allocated for the rebuilding of the Gorrachie Bridge, which was destroyed in an extreme rainfall event in the King Edward area back in September 2019.

The petition asked the council to increase the level of investment in the maintenance, repair and renewal of bridges that carry the local public road network in order that more bridgeworks across Aberdeenshire can be undertaken annually.

Councillors also heard from petitioner Caroline Close who gave a very well-received verbal presentation to committee.

Six bridges in the King Edward area were lost during the exceptional flooding in 2019, with five of the bridges having now been replaced, namely Millcroft, Mill of Balmaud, North Litterty, Bruntyards and Bridge of Fortrie.

Additional funding was provided for council infrastructure in 2022/2023 through the IF1 and IF2 funding streams which recognised the backlog of bridge works required.

However, due to later budgetary constraints, this funding was revised in 2023/2024.

The consequence of this reduction was highlighted in the petition and presentation to ISC particularly regarding the resulting effect from breaks in the road network on rural areas.

There are 1,311 bridges carrying Aberdeenshire’s 3,500-mile long local public road network, of various ages, sizes, construction materials, structural arrangements and subsidiary components such as deck joints, parapets and waterproofing.

Aberdeenshire Council’s bridges workbank prioritisation tool has been developed to assist the council in undertaking strategic investment planning.

The prioritised list, featuring a running cost total, provides the opportunity for a multi-year investment programme to be established for timely bridge maintenance, repair and ultimately renewal at end of service life.

The workbank is a live document and is updated if the condition of bridges, network resilience or the road criticality changes.

It also gives an indication of the funding required to bring all bridges up to an acceptable condition – currently estimated at £100 million. The results of the latest update were also provided to the ISC Committee on January 25.

Members heard that the replacement of Bridge of Gorrachie is currently number 27 on the prioritised list.

Following the committee discussions, ISC chair Cllr Alan Turner said: “I would like to thank the petitioner Caroline Close for her excellent presentation to committee and for highlighting the difficulties we, as a council, continue to face in these challenging financial conditions.

“Aberdeenshire Council is faced with difficult decisions in trying to fairly balance ever more pressing needs across all its services and that is why our bridges workbank prioritisation programme is so critical to the careful planning and allocating of our financial resources.”