MP and MSP meet residents at site of landslip

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid and north-east MSP Peter Chapman
Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid and north-east MSP Peter Chapman

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid and north-east MSP Peter Chapman visited the site of the Gardenstown landslip yesterday in response to concerns from residents about the length of time they face being “cut off”.

The coastal community has been partially blocked off since December, with locals in the lower part of the village only able to get out during a six-hour supervised period one day a week.

Investigatory works at the slope above Harbour Road, commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council, began yesterday and is expected to take 19 days to complete.

However, local authority officials have admitted that they cannot provide a timescale for a permanent solution until engineers have a clearer picture of the ground conditions

Mr Duguid visited the site with local councillors Andy Kille and Mark Findlater, just hours after north-east region MSP Peter Chapman met workers as the drilling work got underway.

Mr Duguid said: “I have been contacted by a considerable number of constituents who simply want a safe and secure solution to this problem as quickly as possible.

“Locals understand the health and safety issues, but there is frustration at the length of time that this may take to resolve. There are also obvious concerns about the community being cut off and the potential impact on the local tourism sector.

“I am pleased to see council contractors on site today, and we will know more once these investigatory works are completed.

“It is clearly a more complex geological situation than would normally be the case. I understand the council has limited resources at its disposal, but I have made clear that I want to see progress made sooner rather than later.”

Mr Chapman, a north-east region MSP and Shadow Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “There was a lot of anger among the residents today, which is understandable.

“Fishermen are having to climb 200 steps to get their catch out from the harbour and off to market, while those with holiday homes are fearful of what will happen if the road is still shut by summer.

“I was glad, however, that the council officers were on hand to talk to those affected and listen to their concerns. Good communication in these situations is absolutely essential.

“I have made the case as forcefully as I can to the council that we must have a solution that allows the road to open again by summer. That is by no means an easy task, and I am sure it will take many months to deliver a permanent solution.”

Mr Duguid also met a Macduff constituent earlier in the day to be shown the impact of coastal erosion in the local area. The issue has been raised several times since the election, with similar problems at Sandend and Crovie.

A study by academics at Glasgow University published this week predicted that more than 3,000 homes and 100 miles of road could be lost to the sea within a few decades due to coastal erosion around Scotland shores.

The report estimated that almost £4bn worth of road and rail infrastructure could be damaged.

Mr Duguid said: “This is a problem that affects not just the whole of Scotland, but coastal communities all over the UK.

“While local authorities have responsibility for land, ongoing SNP budget cuts to councils will mean it becomes increasingly difficult to address these issues in the long term.

“It will require intervention by central government, at both Scottish and UK level. I have spoken before about the possibility of establishing a central fund that coastal communities could apply for.

“The time for action is now, not in ten or twenty years’ time when homes, roads and railway lines are under threat of slipping into the sea.”