Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Orkney, Liam McArthur, has welcomed an assurance from the Finance Secretary that consideration is being given to providing support from the Local Bridges Maintenance Fund to improving fixed links, such as the Churchill Barriers.
During the budget process, the Scottish Government announced an additional £32million will be invested in supporting the rebuilding and maintenance of local bridges.
Following this announcement, Mr McArthur wrote to the Finance Secretary in his capacity as MSP to seek an assurance that part of the funding could be used to help address the long-running 'overtopping' issue on the second Churchill barrier in Orkney.
In response, the Finance Secretary explained that, "The first step will be for the details of this new fund to be discussed with COSLA on behalf of all local authorities, before any further announcements are made. These discussions will include whether or not fixed links, such as the Churchill Barriers on Orkney, will be eligible."
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
"Bridges and causeways provide a lifeline for island communities. I am pleased, therefore, that the Scottish Government has signalled their intention to invest in maintaining and improving these important links. However, the budget announcement wasn't clear on how funding would be allocated.
"For some time now, there has been a problem with waves 'overtopping' the second Churchill barrier, posing risks to drivers and their vehicles. To date, however, any proposed solutions have been discounted by the Council on the basis of cost.
"With government funding now available to improve bridges and causeways, there would seem to be a long overdue opportunity to address this problem.
"While details of the scheme are still being finalised, I welcome the Finance Secretary's reassurance that the inclusion of support for fixed links is being discussed. Hopefully this will allow discussions to take place between OIC and any incoming Scottish Government on how the scheme might help provide a long-term solution to the 'overtopping' issue."