A row over car parking facilities at a new Forth Bridge visitor centre is to be settled by the government.
Network Rail successfully submitted plans to transform the south side of the Unesco World Heritage Site at South Queensferry.
The Forth Bridge Experience project includes the public being able to climb the world-famous structure and learn about its heritage as well as take in spectacular views from 367ft up.
A reception hub will also be created at ground level after plans were approved earlier this year by the City of Edinburgh Council.
Network Rail had hoped to be given permission to create 78 spaces at the site but planners slashed that to just 39 before giving the project the green light.
The council said they made the move to “protect neighbouring amenity” and to “safeguard” archaeological heritage and character of the listed building.
But Network Rail bosses insist any cut to the amount of parking spaces will see neighbours of the bridge affected by visitors parking in nearby streets and expressed concern that visitor numbers to the attraction could be reduced as a result.
They have now appealed to the Scottish Government to have the council’s decision overturned.
In their application, Network Rail said: “The planning application proposal for 78 visitor spaces was fully supported by the Planning and Roads and Transport Sections of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC).
“The decision to half this number to 39 spaces was taken on March 4 2020 at the Development Management Committee which considered the applications. It is considered that this is an arbitrary number with no supporting evidence or independent assessment.
“There has been no consideration of the carriageway widths or a parking survey in relation to the potential parking pressures on the surrounding streets to justify the significant lowering of the visitor parking provision at the Forth Bridge Experience.
“The reduction of parking spaces also has the potential to impact on overall visitor demand.”
As part of the bridge project, groups of between 12 and 15 people wearing safety harnesses will be led out on to the bridge’s south cantilever, walking up to a viewing point at the top using walkways built into the structure.
Up to three groups an hour will be allowed on the bridge, with each tour expected to last about two-and-a-half hours.
It is estimated the bridge walk could attract around 85,000 visitors and create around 40 jobs.
A government reporter will issue a decision on the car parking in due course.