A CONTROVERSIAL road project has been awarded planning permission after more than 40 years of debate.

The Highland Council's south area planning committee agreed to approve the Inverness West link road and a new sports hub with it.

The road is planned to reduce traffic congestion in the centre of Inverness by opening up the west of the city. It will allow for the connection of the A82 Fort William road to the A9 to Perth and the A96 to Aberdeen.

Loading article content

The multi-million pound project will include the sports hub and associated development. It will involve two miles of new single-carriageway road with five roundabouts, a swing bridge over the Caledonian Canal and a new bridge over the River Ness.

There has been stiff local opposition because of the impact on recreational land, particularly beside the Caledonian Canal. Inverness Civic Trust had earlier called for a moratorium for a year whilst the other options could be independently evaluated.

At the same meeting, planning permission in principle was granted for a development at nearby Torvean. It will feature an 18-hole golf course, practice area, new clubhouse, the formation of a sports hub comprising sports pitches, fitness trails, car parking, changing facilities and parkland.

Councillor Jimmy Gray, convenor of The Highland Council and chair of the south planning applications committee, added: "I am extremely enthusiastic about the West link road project. Linked with the sports hub development there is a real opportunity for Inverness and the Highlands to have major sporting and recreational facilities of national interest."