Fife Council has called for a meeting with Network Rail as its fears grow the Forth Bridge’s tourism potential could be left untapped.
Depute leader Lesley Laird and the chairman of Fife Economy Partnership, Stephen Doran, have called on its chief executive Mark Carne to discuss the future of the visitor experience at the bridge, which is now an UNESCO world heritage site.
“Fife Council and Fife businesses believe that the world heritage inscription of the Forth Bridge has the potential to generate significant economic opportunities, particularly in the tourism sector, both locally and nationally,” said Mrs Laird.
“It is vital that the viewing platform and visitor centre are built to further attract visitors, increase employment and grow tourist spend in the kingdom.”
She said the bridge, as a gateway to the north, raises the profile of Fife as a destination.
“There are clear opportunities for tourism growth in North and South Queensferry, along with the potential to develop the bridge as a visitor attraction.”
Mr Doran added: “Although plans have been created by Network Rail that set out options for a visitor experience, we are increasingly concerned that there appears to be no funding earmarked for progressing these plans.
“We fear that the potential of the Forth Bridge as a world heritage site could be left untapped.”
Now they want to get round the table with Network Rail to confirm its position and set up a working group of national agencies to drive the project forward.
Support would also be essential from the Scottish Government, added Mrs Laird as agencies work towards developing the site to deliver a world class experience.
However, the project has not hit the buffers, as a spokesman for Network Rail explained.
He said: “We are continuing to revise our designs for the visitors centre, consult with local communities affected by the proposals and build our business case for investment in the project.
“We will contact Fife Council direct to discuss any concerns.”
The visitor experience will open up the Victorian masterpiece to the public for the first time.
In North Queensferry it will house a visitor centre with educational and exhibition spaces – but the highlight will be a lift which will take visitors to the top of the Fife cantilever.
A smaller area on the south side would offer guided tours of the bridge to the top.
An economic study commissioned by the Forth Bridges Forum highlighted the potential for world heritage status as a driver of economic growth and for establishing place-awareness on a global level.