The preferred option from a flood protection study carried out in Stonehaven has been approved.
It will be submitted along with an additional statement to the Scottish Government to identify priorities.
The preferred option includes raising the existing sea wall to the north of the River Cowie, raising the sea wall along the beachfront, implementing an adaptive beach recharge, and property flood resilience at properties in the harbour area.
New flood defences at the harbour would also be installed when the current defences exceed their residual life.
Total cost of the proposed option is estimated to be £22.7 million.
The North East Local Flood Risk Management Plan 2016-2022 was agreed back in 2016 and flood protection studies were carried out at sites at risk of flooding.
The plan featured a summary of objectives and actions within the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s (SEPA) Flood Risk Management Strategy.
After considering the flood protection studies in 2016 Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) agreed that the Stonehaven Bay Coastal area should be taken forward to the 2016-2022 Flood Risk Management planning cycle.
The risk management plan was discussed at last Thursday’s ISC meeting.
ISC chair Councillor Peter Argyle told members that Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee had discussed the preferred options twice previously and carried out a site visit.
At its last meeting the area committee stated that they supported taking action to address the flood risk in Stonehaven but asked “that all defences at sea are maximised to ensure the sea wall height is optimised at the lowest achievable level such that the promenade need not be raised”.
Speaking at the meeting local resident and officer of the Stonehaven Flood Action Group, Alan Turner, said that raising the promenade would lead to loss of privacy for residents through being overlooked, a loss of light, an increase in noise, decreased property values, and a potential rise in vandalism.
Commenting on the options, he said: “I never dreamt that we would come out with a proposal that was actually worse than flooding. To build this will cause effect to people living next to it.”
Regarding the decision made by the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee, he said: “The key bit for us in some respects is the last sentence where we talk about maximising the defences at sea to minimise the effect to the wall height and also not to raise the promenade.
“For the northern section quite simply, if you raise that wall you wouldn’t actually see the beach so you can have a beach front cafeteria where you can’t actually see anything, and then again because of the design you actually lose 50 per cent of car parking in the area due to the raised promenade.”
Councillor Argyle said: “By a very clear majority the committee agreed this wording which is to put the preferred option forward but with this wording attached. There is no hard and fast absolute scheme at this stage. There is still a lot of work to do but at least that would get something in to SEPA for prioritisation.”
Councillor Ian Mollison added: “As I understand the choice we have is doing nothing or doing something, and the something is limited by the time frame we’ve got. My preference is that we do something because people in Stonehaven – the visitors, the residents, the businesses – are in danger.
“I would hope that the committee can agree to move ahead that for Stonehaven we accept the option with the caveat being added so that information is put forward as part of the package of the application towards the SEPA plan.”
It is proposed that the preferred option and additional statement from the area committee will now be put forward for inclusion in SEPA’s National Prioritisation early next year. From there, the Scottish Government will identify its priorities for potential flood protection schemes.