Reopening Bervie Braes Road would be ‘No-Brainer’

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Bervie Braes road is safer for cars than pedestrians and reopening it would be ‘a no-brainer.’

That’s according to the findings of engineering company, Jacobs, who carried out investigations into the risk factor of the road, and a the view of a member of Stonehaven Community Council who met on Tuesday night.

The saga of the re-opening of the Bervie Braes road continued this week as the Leader gained access to the Jacobs report.

It outlines options for the re-opening of the road and also looks at the risks involved.

The report was originally due to be presented to the Kincardine and Mearns Area committee at their February meeting, but the item was pulled from the agenda.

Aberdeenshire Council said they needed to gather more information, but it was suggested the report - to which access was gained through a freedom of information request - was pulled because of its findings.

Following the Slope Stabilisation Works carried out there last year, Jacobs were commissioned by the council to assess and report on the residual risk of slope instability to the users of the Braes.

The report outlines the risk to users in relation to the four options for re-opening the slope.

These are:

n Full earthwork regrading of the slope with construction of slope drainage;

n Construction of a catch fence along the toe with slope drainage;

n Installation of a remote monitoring and barrier system with construction of slope drainage and do nothing and re-open the road.

When the Bervie Braes Road is put before Kincardine and Mearns area committee this month, these are the four options with which councillors will be presented with for re-opening the road.

They will then give their recommendations and this will go before the policy and resource committee where a decision will be made. The decision will then be final, unless there is a legal objection to the plans.

The Aberdeenshire Council Alliance group will discuss the issue prior to area committee, with their discussion due to take place on Monday.

For each of the four options, Jacobs laid out an assessment on the risks to pedestrian and vehicles, and in each case the likelihood of a slip was also outlined.

For all four options, the risk was always the same or less to vehicles than pedestrians.

Options with the greatest risk were the remote monitoring barrier with slope drainage and doing nothing.

On Tuesday evening, this caused members of Stonehaven and District Community Council to question why the road had remained shut to vehicles, while pedestrians were allowed to use it.

Councillors also questioned why the decision was taking so long, with some suggesting that they felt the local authority didn’t want it re-opened.

They called for the road to be reopened by April so that the town will benefit from the tourists visiting Dunnottar Castle.

As reported in the Leader last month, a report commissioned by the Stonehaven Town Partnership showed that the town was losing out on tourism revenue of £9 million annually as tourists were by-passing Stoney because the road is closed.

Community councillor, Allan Sutherland said: “The Bervie Braes road being shut is a deterrent to tourism growth in the area - something has to be done.”

Fellow councillor David Fleming described the re-opening of the road as a “no-brainer in terms of economic cases.” Later in the meeting he described the lack of information about the Braes road, and the local authorities reasons for not re-opening it sooner as “negligence.”

Former civil engineer and community councillor George Strang presented a number of options he had come up with which would allow the road to be re-opened by April.

He is hoping Aberdeenshire Council will consider his suggestions.