Village residents: World Heritage Status could attract too many tourists to Forth Bridge

Village residents: World Heritage Status could attract too many tourists to Forth Bridge
Herald Scotland, by Brian Donnelly
07.07.15
 
A campaign group has already been set up, Help Our North Queensferry, following Sunday’s announcement. It is calling for impact studies on the village as plans progress for a £15 million visitor centre at the famous rail bridge.

 

Fife Council, Network Rail and Visitscotland have said full impact studies will be carried out as plans for the area are developed further and one option is a village park and ride.

 

The Forth Bridge visitor centre is due to be open in 2017 and the campaigners claim it could mean 500,000 visitors a year.

 

Campaign spokeswoman Pamela Mckendrick said it has had around 100 residents attend its meetings and it plans to lobby the council and rail chiefs over the plans, while there is also concern over the harbour and pier.

 

She said: "The incremental impact from World Heritage Status, the granting of planning permission to Network Rail for its visitor attraction to the top of the Forth Rail Bridge and also the Fife Council pier pontoon proposals will profoundly change the village.

 

"As yet no one can say whether these changes will be all bad or all good but we do know that the village will be changed."

 

He said "the cheers from outside North Queensferry are worryingly loud".

 

She added: "Alas, to date the celebrations from within the village are on hold.

 

"It seems the importance of North Queensferry’s Conservation Area status has been put to one side.

 

"The intellectual debate of a world class historic structure, now granted the equivalent of an Olympic gold medal via Unesco, being immediately adapted by Network Rail has been put on hold, as has the threat of undermining an A-Listed pier from routine dredging."

 

She said the village’s streets were not built for modern traffic."

 

Sandra Montador-Stewart, of Fife Council, said it will "undertake a visitor study looking at potential visitor footfall now that the Forth Bridge has World Heritage Status".

 

"This will build on a number of other reports commissioned as part of the bidding process to Unesco.

 

"Fife Council officials and Network Rail have had early discussions about potential traffic management options for the village of North Queensferry including out of village park and ride options and attracting as many people as possible to access the village by train."

 

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We are currently developing detailed designs for a Forth Bridge visitor centre and walk. We expect to make those designs public later this summer.

 

"We’re hugely excited by the proposals and know that there is widespread interest from the public, however we’re fully aware of the potential sensitivities and we will be consulting fully with the local community, Historic Scotland, Unesco and other interested parties."

A VisitScotland spokesman said: "We are aware of the concerns over increased numbers of visitors and traffic management issues in the North Queensferry area and are confident that all the organisations involved in looking after and promoting all three bridges, as part of the Forth Bridges Forum, are taking the right steps to consult with local community members and come up with viable solutions."