Stonehaven flood options under scrutiny by councillors

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Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee have asked for alternative options to be examined to prevent future flooding in Stonehaven.

Councillors visited the town’s beach front following discussion at their last meeting of the Stonehaven Bay Coastal Flood Protection Study report.

The visit helped give them a better idea of how the proposed preferred options would look if they were approved and constructed.

These include raising the existing defence walls by a metre, along with an adaptive beach recharge scheme.

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Ian Mollison said: “We have a problem here, there is a possibility that the sea will rise by 2ft 5in in 100 years. We have a chance now to do nothing and homes will be flooded, or we can do something to protect homes, businesses, people.

“If the funding is forthcoming then the detailed design takes place and for me it’s a no brainer that we do that. It is not acceptable that we know we have a problem but do nothing about it.”

However, Councillor Colin Pike disagreed with the preferred options and said: “I feel like we are being shoe-horned into supporting this. We will never resolve these problems and we will never be able to stop mother nature, you can’t stop water going over the wall.”

The report stated that site investigation work had not been carried out therefore the ground conditions were unknown, an issue that concerned committee chair Councillor Wendy Agnew.

She said: “I’m not happy with this. I can’t see this being good for the health and wellbeing of people on the beach front.”

Local resident and officer of the Stonehaven Flood Action Group (SFAG), Alan Turner, returned to address the committee.

Speaking about the central area he made the point that if the promenade was raised the path would be as high as the ground floor windows of surrounding properties, including Turner’s Court.

He said: “You have to be 55 to own a house in a sheltered housing complex, that means once in eight lifetimes there would be the chance of a flood. But if you make these changes people will have to live with that everyday.”

He added that SFAG wants to see work carried out to dissipate the force of the sea before it reaches the seawall, and attenuate the waves by extending the Brachans to the north.

Councillor Sandy Wallace asked Mr Turner how he felt if the committee decided to do nothing, to which he replied: “That’s the situation we have now. Our preference would be to have the work carried out further out at sea, not right at people’s properties. 

If you are asking “wall or no wall” we would say “no wall”.

“Raising the promenade raises problems. It’s easy to say the water will go up by one metre so we build a one metre wall but we actually need to prevent the sea levels from rising.”

Following discussion, Councillor Wallace put forward a motion for no action to be taken on the funding application. He explained: “At some point action will need to be taken further down the line but if we get it wrong now it will be wrong for good.”

Councillor Agnew said she would second his motion if he agreed to add that the council should agree to pursue defences out to sea using groynes and rock armour, however councillor Wallace declined.
Cllr Agnew then put forward an amendment not to pursue raising the height of the sea wall to the height as per Option 1, but to agree defences out to sea by use of groynes and rock armour. Her amendment did not carry.
Cllr Jeff Hutchison said: “I move that we go with the preferred option. The long-term flood risk will increase and we can’t do nothing. If we view this as a draft plan it will get our foot in the door for funding.”

Fellow councillor Sarah Dickinson supported the move to apply for funding but added that the preferred options were not acceptable. She said: “We should do something but we cannot raise the sea wall by one metre.”

The committee was given a ten-minute recess to discuss their comments to put forward to the Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC).

Following an 8-2 vote in favour of an amendment by Councillor Dickinson, councillors commented that they supported taking action to address the flood risk in Stonehaven, however they have asked that all defences at sea will be maximised to ensure the sea wall height is “optimised at the lowest achievable level such that the promenade need not be raised”.

The committee’s comments will be raised at the ISC meeting on Thursday, November 28.