A WRANGLE over emergency access to an iconic cruise liner will not sink plans to transform it into a major tourist attraction, say campaigners.
A group says it is on course to resurrect The Duke of Lancaster into a visitor hotspot, despite stumbling blocks over the weight limit of a nearby bridge.
Network Rail, which owns the bridge, says it will not permit it to be used as an access route for visitors to the ship.
The decommisioned cruise liner has been docked off the coast at Llanerch-y-Môr, Mostyn, for more than 30 years.
Campaigners from The Duke of Lancaster Appreciation Society (DOLAS) want to transform it into The Funship, helping make it a leading attraction on the North Wales coast.
Last year, street artwork began appearing on the ship, giving it a new lease of life as an open air art gallery and sculpture park. But DOLAS claims it has faced stumbling blocks in its regeneration plans, including issues over the maximum weight allowed on a nearby access bridge at Glyn y Don.
DOLAS spokesman Ashley Gardner said: “Network Rail admitted last week the bridge is strong enough to carry fire engines with a limit of 24 tonnes.
“Network Rail also acknowledged the emergency services have a statutory right to use the bridge and Network Rail has no objections with regards fire engines accessing The Funship.”
A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “Flintshire County Council does not own the bridge in question. It is the property of Network Rail, who have previously stated in writing to the council that the bridge has a weight restriction of 10 tonnes.
“The council will work with anyone interested in submitting a planning application for the ship who will need to demonstrate there is safe and appropriate access. Any confirmation of a change in the weight limit imposed by Network Rail will be considered as part of the assessment of proposed access routes.
“Likewise, applicants will need to show any flood risk is satisfactorily controlled.
“The council will therefore also consider any changes in the reported risk of flooding in the area.
“The council can confirm that dialogue is taking place with DOLAS.
“An invitation has been offered by the head of planning to meet with representatives of DOLAS and relevant officers to discuss their proposals, but this invitation has yet to be taken up.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “There is a 10 tonne weight restriction over the bridge.
“Welsh Water, which is an authorised user, has a special dispensation to take vehicles up to 24 tonnes over the structure.
“However, special dispensation for Welsh Water is given on the basis Network Rail receives prior notice of their wish to use vehicles greater than 10 tonnes and that Network Rail maintains the right to refuse or remove existing rights should conditions at the bridge change to the extent it is no longer safe to allow heavier vehicles to cross.
“Network Rail does not have any objection to the Duke of Lancaster being used as a tourist attraction.
“However, any vehicular access required if planning consent is granted, will have to be via a designated public road.
“Unfortunately, there will be no such vehicular rights permitted over the Bridge 67.
“There has been much correspondence between Network Rail and the owners of the Duke of Lancaster, and appropriate advice on the legal position has been made to them regarding the vehicular access rights over this bridge.”