A 12-YEAR fight to introduce a path between Drem and Gullane has taken a major step forward, after campaigners agreed to back a landowner’s offer to provide access on part of his land.

The battle for a core path to connect the two villages has been ongoing for over a decade, with campaigners looking for a bike-friendly route away from the main road.

They were invited by East Lothian Council to meet with the landowner for mediation talks, after years of failing to agree on the route.

Campaign spokesman Iain Monk said the talks had been a success.

He said: “In March, East Lothian Council approached us to ask if we would be prepared to take part in mediation talks involving ourselves, the landowner and other interested parties to break the impasse in the dispute.

“We agreed and put forward our arguments for core path 357 and the shorter route, across the farmer’s field at the bottom of the tarmac road leading from the Chesters. The landowner happily participated in the mediation process, but wished to maintain his long-held, publicly-stated position – to offer an off-road path on the west side of the B1345 from Drem.

“After careful consideration, the campaign has decided to formally back the landowner’s preferred route.

“This represents a major shift in the direction of our campaign. We believe it is the most realistic option that will deliver a safe path between Gullane and Drem.

“We hope the council will now move quickly to bring the long-awaited path into use. With hundreds of new homes earmarked for construction on the edge of Gullane, a safe route connecting Drem to the coastal villages is imperative.”

A council spokesperson said: “Extensive discussions and consultations have taken place with a range of stakeholders to finalise core path 357. An independent consultant was brought in to support mediation for this project and work continues to find a solution to enable final delivery of this path.”