Site visit to look at seawall flood option

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Councillors are to visit Stonehaven’s beachfront amid concerns at the prospect of raising seawalls as a flood defence option.

An updated Stonehaven Bay Coastal Flood Protection Study report was discussed by members of Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee on Tuesday.

The committee heard from collaborators JBA Consulting at the meeting, and they also discussed the preferred option that could see the existing defence walls raised by one metre, along with an adaptive beach recharge scheme.

However, councillors raised concerns about the raising of the walls and asked if other options were available.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Sarah Dickinson asked if glass or another transparent material could be used in a proposed wall in the North Zone.

Following on from Councillor Dickinson’s question, Councillor Dennis Robertson asked if it was possible to design a barrier that would be “visually pleasing for residents and visitors using local facilities” instead of a blank wall.

Douglas Pender, of JBA Consulting, answered both queries by saying that aesthetics are “important” for Stonehaven, and that there was “no reason parts can’t be perspex” but added that a concept for this would need to be created.

Committee chair Councillor Wendy Agnew asked about the creation of an offshore breakwater and if it could be a potential option to prevent increasing the size of the walls. However, Mr Pender said that choosing this option would not be as effective and there would be more risk of potential flooding in the long-term.

He explained that the cost of creating an offshore breakwater would be more expensive than other proposed options but Councillor Agnew argued that “maybe more costly options would be better”.

She added: “We want to get an option that people will support and are happy with. Don’t short-change Stonehaven.”

Councillor George Carr also raised the offshore breakwater option and believes it should be considered as it had been used successfully at Johnshaven and Inverbervie in the past.

He continued: “It might not be cost effective but we need something that will do the job.

“I would like rock armour and an offshore breakwater to be looked at as an option.”

During the meeting Councillor Colin Pike asked if the public were “well informed” of the study and the proposed options, adding that he did not find the documents “easy to follow”.

He added: “I don’t think the committee has enough detail to comment on the plans. We need to visit Stonehaven so we can see for ourselves and get an idea of what has been proposed using visuals.

“This is a serious issue and I will not be rushed to give comments. I sense as a committee that we aren’t happy with this. I’m not comfortable making comments now and I want the whole committee to be happy and confident with what we are agreeing to.”

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 though being overlooked, a loss of light, decreased property values and a potential rise in vandalism.

After showing a number of slides and photographs to the committee, Mr Turner noted that if the walls were to rise it would have an impact on local businesses in the area, particularly those on the north side that face the coast.

He said: “Right at the back of the report it mentions the Brachans which could have a lower rear wall, reducing the sea wall height and therefore reducing the need to raise the promenade. I struggle when tourists get more right to a view than residents.”

Speaking about the potential glass wall idea Mr Turner said it was: “wonderful but I don’t think the technology is there yet”. He added: “Glass at my property has been smashed before, I don’t want any properties to be damaged.”

After a brief discussion, councillors decided that a site visit would be beneficial with an update to be given at the next meeting of the committee on Tuesday, November 19.

The decision will be passed on to Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee before it is sent on to the environment agency SEPA for consideration.