A MAJOR step forward in a near two-decade campaign for the creation of a path linking two villages has been welcomed.

Campaigners have repeatedly called for a safe route linking Drem and Gullane for pedestrians and cyclists.

Now, Sustrans Scotland has awarded East Lothian Council £30,000 to examine design options for the first section of a path.

Members of the Drem-Gullane Path Campaign group are urging council officials to quickly finalise plans and start work on the path, which would take cyclists off the busy B1345.

Iain Monk, spokesman for the campaign group, described the announcement as “thrilling news”.

READ MORE: Campaigners call for quicker move on Gullane to Drem path plan

He said: “Our persistence has paid off and this represents a huge milestone in our campaign for a safe path that can be enjoyed by everyone in our community as well as visitors.

“The path will protect lives by keeping walkers, wheelers and cyclists away from the busy B1345 road and encourage healthier and greener journeys between the villages.

”It's now vital East Lothian Council speeds up construction of this climate-friendly path."

The campaign has been running for 17 years, with those supporting the cause believing the route will also have economic benefits for the area.

Paul McLennan, East Lothian MSP, was joined by South Scotland MSPs Craig Hoy and Martin Whitfield in welcoming the announcement.

East Lothian Courier: Hopes that a path connecting Gullane (top) to Drem (bottom) could be created have been boosted. Pictures: Google MapsHopes that a path connecting Gullane (top) to Drem (bottom) could be created have been boosted. Pictures: Google Maps

In a joint statement, they said: “This funding represents a major milestone in the long running community campaign for a safe link between Gullane and Drem railway station.

“It is essential that local families, and visitors to the area, are given a healthy alternative that will allow safe travel between the villages.

“An active travel network across the country will help reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality, which is why it’s vital that East Lothian Council and Sustrans continue to focus their efforts to ensure the whole route is constructed as soon as possible.”

East Lothian Council now hope to appoint a consultant to look at the issue.

READ MORE: 'Fresh look' to be taken at options for Gullane-Drem path

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “East Lothian Council has received the full requested amount of £30,000 from Sustrans 2022/23 funding programme.

“This will provide the opportunity to engage an appropriate consultant to examine the design options and to identify a possible solution to meet the design standards and road safety to allow the creation of a new cycle path to the north of Drem village.

“A required condition attached to the funding award is to ‘provide evidence of meaningful engagement with different people/groups representing a variety of protected characteristics, including visually impaired people/groups in the design development through an Equality Impact Assessment’.”