CONSTRUCTION of the new Fairlie seafront path will begin later this month - over two years after permission was granted by councillors.

The path along the beach was the subject of three public consultations and a number of residents voiced opposition to the project.

Now work is finally set to start on the walkway.

A spokesman for North Ayrshire Council said: "Construction of the Fairlie seafront path will begin later this month.

"There is no confirmed opening date as yet – this will be informed by the contractors’ programme of works and discussion with the funder and partner organisations.

"Unfortunately there has been a delay to the originally planned start date for construction.

"This was due to the need to secure a marine licence."

Zoe MacLean, a supporter of the seafront path, is pleased that progress is at last being made.

She said: "It is going to be a much safer way to travel along the seafront and it will take people off the main road, which can have fast traffic at times.

"At the moment, any buggies can only really get so far along the beach from the south end, but to have the full run of the seafront would be amazing.

"It opens up the opportunity of going along the seafront path to places like Fairlie Parish Church, and onwards to the community garden.

"It is going to be worthwhile and it will be nice to see it finally completed."

One of the areas of contention during the hold-up was the strip of sand in front of Ferry Row, with some objectors insisting that the high tide will render the path impossible to use.

However, Fairlie businessman Brian Flannigan, co-owner of The Village Inn lease, believes that the path will be a boon for businesses like his own.

Mr Flannigan said: "It has caused quite a debate in the village, but I am sure once it is up and running, it will be well used.

"It is a great beach - everywhere else has these kind of facilities, so it is a good thing to add.

"It makes it a safer route for families to get from one end of the village to another, and away from the busy main road."

Nancy McQueen, secretary of the Fairlie Community Garden, believes the new path will encourage people to cycle or walk rather than using vehicles when they visit.

She added: "We already have members who cycle from Largs, so it will be good that they have further opportunity to cycle onwards through Fairlie.

"It would also be good to have wheelchair access, and we see a lot of benefits from the new path."

Last year, North Ayrshire Council secured £165,000 from access charity Sustrans towards the project, but only a small section to the south of the village has been completed so far.

Fairlie Community Trust have been taking a close interest in the design of the path and they want regular dialogue between the local community, council and the path designers and contractors to get the best result and minimise construction disruption.

But not everyone is happy about the prospect of the path.

On Facebook, one villager wrote: "The path proposed is a minimum of two metres wide and at a height that will ruin the beach. The path would be built for the UK cycle network, not just for the village, making it dangerous for users as well."

Another villager opined: "It is not that people object to a path. The proposed path is completely inappropriate for the area. You can't really appreciate what a loss it will be to not have the sandy areas of the beach, the rock pools full of sea creatures and much more."