Vandalism out of control at Lunan Bay?

THE APPROACHING summer brings with it glorious weather, and a refurbished car park and access paths at Lunan Bay.

But it also brings the considerable threat of vandalism and thoughtless damage in the area, which particularly affects Lunan Farms, immediately adjacent to the beach. There are even fears for the long-term future of the sand dunes.

Farmers Bonnie Blair-Imrie and Scott Bremner are so concerned, they have issued a special appeal to the public to use the facility of the beach with consideration to the farm. But they have also slammed Angus Council and Police for failing to deal with repeated vandalism.

Bonnie said: “Firstly we would like to congratulate Angus Council on the work that has been carried out on the car park. It is looking very good and fits in well with the surroundings.”

She continued: “Again, however, our worry is that the car park is not being used for the reasons that it is there, which is to allow access to the beach.

“The beach ends at high tide mark where the land becomes part of Lunan Farms. About 50 per cent of visitors to the bay use the car park for the sole purpose of accessing the beach. The other half access areas above high tide mark to the dunes and the farmland behind.

“As long as these people accessing these areas behave in a way that suits the natural environment of the area then there is no problem. Unfortunately there are increasing numbers of incidents [of damage]. Also looking at the dunes this year there is a large increase in the number of paths along them as well as a correspondingly large decrease in the amount of vegetation growing on them.”

Bonnie feels Angus Council should take more responsibility. In return, she says she will provide registration numbers of vehicles whose occupants are causing problems; and operate a gate as much as is practical.

Of particular concern are issues such as cutting down trees and branches for firewood.

She accepts that this is more of a police matter than one for the council, but says to police: “We will not be calling you out this year as it has proved a waste of time for both us and you over the past couple of years. Your hands are obviously tied ... and we are afraid to say that there seems to be a complete lack of respect for police from the general public at the present time. We have also been informed that only a small percentage of incidents that you have been called out to have been recorded.

“We had been promised a written code for Lunan Bay from a number of officers for the last three years but this has failed to materialise.”

Bonnie says Lunan Bay is one of the most beautiful places within the country and was voted best beach of the year in 2000.

She added: “It is such an asset to Angus but for how much longer will this be the case? We are prepared to work with anyone to prevent dune erosion and damage to the natural environment of the area before it really takes hold.”

She has provided a list of the type of incidents that occur: dog attacks on livestock; dog attacks on workers; seriously threatening behaviour towards farmers; vandalism to the farm shop; theft of shop signage; theft of livestock; large amounts of damage to trees and vegetation; large amounts of littering; and large fires.

She concluded: “If we went into someone’s garden in Montrose or Arbroath tonight, pitched up our tent, cut down their tree, started a fire, got drunk and shouted abuse at them would the police come out and tell the owner of the house that [the trouble-makers] are too drunk to go tonight and they will leave in the morning!

“It takes up so much of our time dealing with these issues that it takes time away from managing our business and making a living for ourselves. The land is also heavily protected by local planning policy which prevents us from making money out of the land through tourism. But how is this fair when it is being destroyed by visitors to a council car park?

“We are very proud and privileged to live in this area. We believe that the area should be left as nature intended.

“The family has a history of leaving the area around the beach open to the public and they should be able to appreciate the beauty of the area without others destroying it. Will anybody be willing to step up and help in 2011?”

A spokeswoman for Angus Council told us: “We are aware of the problems mentioned. Although the installation last spring of barriers which were closed at night at the car park did improve the situation, we plan to meet with the landowners to discuss the issues further once the current works to upgrade and extend the car park are completed.”

A spokeswoman for Tayside Police said: “We are aware of two incidents in the area having been reported to us since July, 2009. On each occasion the local Inspector spoke with Mr Bremner and provided both crime prevention advice and advice on the Scottish Outdoor Access code. However, none of the incidents that are referred to in this letter have been reported to Tayside Police. Given the concerns raised, the local Inspector will once again make contact in a bid to establish whether any criminality has indeed take place.”