A colony of bats has scuppered plans for a refurbishment of the bridge that has carried the Royal Family over the River Dee from Balmoral.
The Balmoral Bridge - a Category A listed structure - was due to have its timbers, damaged by years of fungal decay, replaced this summer when the Queen was not in residence.
But it has now been revealed that the refurbishment scheme will now be delayed until the beginning of October and last until March next year because of the possibility that the structure will be used by a colony roosting bats over the summer months.
The move will spare thousands of visitors delays to their journeys on Royal Deeside at the height of the holiday season.
Stephen Archer, the council’s director of infrastructure services, said in a report to the Marr area committee: “The comments raised by some of the consultees regarding the timing of works in regards to the traffic disruption is not a relevant planning consideration.”
But he explained that a delay to the refurbishment scheme had been secured after Scottish Natural Heritage raised the prospect of bats using the bridge to roost . He told councillors that the “potential impact on bats” was a “relevant reason to restrict the timing of the works.”
The bridge has been regularly used to take reigning monarchs across the Dee to church services at nearby Crathie Kirk since the reign of Queen Victoria.