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IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL FRIENDS FROM OUR CHAIRMAN RICHARD ADLINGTON

13/09/12
Your organisation continues to progress well. Our new website is now operational (www.friendsoftheriveralmondwalkway.org.uk) and will be regularly updated. Please take a look at it and let us know what you think. We’re also up and running on Facebook and you can follow us on Twitter at @FRAW2012. We have a schedule of future dates for work parties and hope that as many as possible will join in. Our finances are now strengthened by a grant by the Community Fund of Edinburgh Airport which will allow us to increase our options such as investing in tools and equipment.

There are two larger related issues of importance, the proposed replacement of the Salvesen Steps by a walkway around the cliff, and the removal of two weirs. Replacing the steps has many attractions, not least by providing much needed access to the entire length of the route for elderly or disabled people, many of whom find the existing steps impossible to tackle, or for people with young families, pushchairs or cycles. The cost is considerable but the present wooden steps have a limited life-span and it is more than possible that they would not be replaced, thus permanently rendering the walkway non-continuous. The Council has plans at a relatively advanced stage. Capital funding is also largely in place from a variety of sources. Your Committee is very keen to encourage the progress of this exciting project but it has been abruptly delayed by a plan by SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) to remove the weirs on the river.

SEPA are proposing to dynamite the weir at Fair-a-Far and mechanically remove the weir at Dowies Mill. Their rationale is that it would return the river to its natural state with consequent advantages for the environment, particularly fish. There are however serious objections because of the special local heritage and status of the River Almond at Cramond. The weirs are an important feature of Scotland’s first industrial iron industry. The appearance of the river would also be affected particularly by the removal of the popular waterfall at Fair-a-Far (which is ‘listed’). The removal of the Dowies Mill weir would alter the appearance of the river at Cramond Brig by lowering its level there. Some years ago a large amount of money was spent when large stones were piled to fill a break in it, as it was feared that the change in the water level was damaging the bridge.

The danger is that this proposal by SEPA will drag on and prevent the Salvesen Steps project from taking place. It would therefore be of advantage if this issue was speedily resolved. Your Committee would like to press for this. but your views would be appreciated as to both the value of replacing the steps and SEPA’s proposal. The Community Council and Cramond Heritage Trust have already been commendably active in these matters and we of course will support them in any way we can. However the issues are very much in our remit and it would be useful if we were to supply an additional avenue for pushing for a good outcome.

What is to be done?

First, give us your views so that we can accurately represent our members. This can be done via our website or by email to friendsoftheriveralmondwalkway@gmail.com.

Second, the more members we have, the more seriously our proposals will be taken. Our membership currently extends to close on 100 households. This is a substantial number and a most encouraging start. Doubling this would be very useful indeed. If everyone was to recruit just one extra member, this would be easily accomplished. This is not a fund-raising proposal. This is simply to make us more representative and give our voice more strength. It is very easy to join, and a membership application, with details of how to submit it, is available via the ‘Forms’ link on our website (www.friendsoftheriveralmondwalkway.org.uk) or by emailing friendsoftheriveralmondwalkway@gmail.com to request one.
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