Erosion problem “bigger” than expected

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ORGANISING a scheme to save a cairn near Ferryden from erosion could be more complicated than first thought, the village’s community council has heard.

The cairn, near Scurdieness Lighthouse, was erected to mark the end of the annual Great Outdoor Challenge coast-to-coast walk and is in danger of toppling into the sea.

At their meeting on Thursday, members were told that the first step would be to bring together the different landowners and interested parties to discuss what action can be taken to halt or arrest the erosion process, although it could take some time to find all those involved.

Help has also been offered by Angus Council’s community learning and development service.

Any action taken, however, is complicated as the area is near a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The coast-to-coast walk takes place every October when entrants leave from around a dozen starting points in the west to finishing points scattered along the coast between Arbroath and Fraserburgh.

All walkers have to report to the organisers’ control centre in Montrose but the cairn, at Scurdieness Lighthouse, was erected as an official marker in 2005.

The community council funded the project itself as it was hoped more people would be attracted to the village and surrounding area to finish their trek.

It was considering installing gabions – wire baskets filled with rubble – to try to halt the process but David Wilson, who lives in the lighthouse, had sought advice on how the area around the cairn could be protected and enhanced and found that work could cost around £8,000.

Chairman Gordon Brown said the situation is “growing arms and legs” and may be too big for the community council to deal with on its own.

He said: “Because there are so many interested parties developing here I’m beginning to think it’s a bigger project than we should be taking on on our own, although we’d be looking to have some input and help where we can.

“In the long term, whoever has responsibility for the SSSI should show an interest in preserving it; with coastal erosion, whoever are the interested parties should be showing an interest and from the cairn side of it we should be showing support but we shouldn’t be the main driver for it.”

Beverley Gibb, of the learning and development service, said establishing all the landowners involved would be the first step, although she had visited the site with an engineer from the council’s roads department to view the situation for herself.

She also said there could be an issue if the land fell within Crown Estate ownership.

She continued: “The council acts as the protection agency for the coast and we need to look at these bits and pieces. We can help but it will still need a group to take it forward.”

Member Ingram Bruce said the community council needs to call in an engineer to assess what would be required and suggested a site visit be arranged.

Ms Gibb said she would try to find out what she could about land ownership and also inquire about a site visit with a council engineer.