CAMPAIGNERS for a path connecting Gullane and Drem have been left “shocked” after being told it could be “years” before it is in place.

Community activists have been calling for a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to be created between the two villages for more than 15 years.

Now, the plans for the path have been dealt another blow, with campaigners claiming they have been told it could be at least another three years before the path is ready.

East Lothian Council has been challenged to deliver on its climate change promises by speeding up construction of the footway.

Campaigners have sent a letter to East Lothian MSP Paul McLennan, alongside South Scotland MSPs Craig Hoy and Martin Whitfield, calling for their support.

Iain Monk, spokesman for the Drem-Gullane Path Campaign, was among those looking for more urgency in creating the four-mile route.

He said: “As Scotland prepares to host the COP26 summit, it beggars belief the council is dragging its feet when it should be prioritising investment in more active travel infrastructure.

“East Lothian Council’s ruling administration must show political leadership and compress this shocking and unacceptable timescale.

“We hope our MSPs’ intervention will make them see sense.”

Campaigners feel that the route is “essential” for both local families and visitors to the area.

The letter to the politicians highlights Sustrans Scotland is currently considering a £15,000 council funding application to prepare design options for the first section of the path at Drem.

It reads: “Sustrans expect to adjudicate on it by the end of September.

“In response to our questioning as to what would happen next, both the council and Sustrans explained that a successful application for the feasibility assessment would be just the start of a multi-stage and multi-year process: feasibility assessment to detailed designs to actual construction.

“The council representative stated therefore that the construction of the path would not start for ‘years’, at best in 2024, because of the processes involved in applying for grants from Sustrans for the technical assessments required.

“This timescale has shocked us and we believe contradicts the council’s publicly stated position of improving active travel infrastructure urgently in light of the recognised climate emergency – all the more so as our country will be hosting the COP26 summit in November, and yet here, within 70 miles of the conference centre, we have an example of how global statements, agreements and policies as to the importance and urgency of creating active travel infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions seemingly do not flow down to actual results at the local level.

“It’s an extremely dispiriting story.

“An active travel network across East Lothian will help reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. It is vital that construction starts as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for East Lothian Council said: “We are pleased to be continuing our work to identify and deliver active travel options across East Lothian, building on projects from recent years.

“A comprehensive study, published in August 2019, concluded that a route for a safer link to cycle between Drem and Gullane was not viable at the time.

“Sustrans has since reviewed the study and suggested that they could revise their criteria which may allow part of a route to be created as an ‘on road’ solution, rather than as a route segregated from the carriageway.

“We have applied to Sustrans for funding to carry out further feasibility work and expect a decision around September.

“Our Climate Change Strategy sets out East Lothian Council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency with specific outcomes, key priority areas and actions over an initial five-year period towards achieving these overall aims.”