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A major study into the future of the Fisherman’s Walk in Brodick has found urgent action is needed or parts of the popular walk will be lost to the sea forever.
At high tide sections of the popular coastal walk are already underwater making it impassable – although several rat runs have been created further eroding the fragile banks.
Nearly 60 people joined an online meeting this week to hear details of the six-week study carried out by Glasgow-based environmental consultancy EnviroCentre Ltd.
They have been brought in by the Arran Access Trust who have received funding from the NatureScot to investigate the long-term future of the path.
And some of the findings, which were revealed by Eleanor Morrison of EnviroCentre, made for sobering reading.
The study has confirmed that the path is subject to extreme sea levels with parts submerged during high tides. There are also significant wave movements typically up to one metre, but which can be over two metres.
Historically the study found Brodick beach lowered by a metre between 2000 and 2010, and there has been a sediment drift towards the centre of the bay.
And there was a further warning that sea levels, wave heights and river levels are all likely to increase as a result of climate change, with projected rates of erosion showing more than 600 metres of beach could recede by 20 metres by 2o50 and the mean high water spring could be 100 metres inland from its current position by the same date.
Eleanor also admitted that the boardwalk at the Brodick end of the walk was only a temporary measure which would not last in the long term and that the path would have to be rerouted around the wetland at the side of the golf course, but said there are Japanese knotweed problems there.
As a result of all this the study proposes an adaptive management strategy to try and save the popular path. This would involve focusing on short-term priorities including: flooding hotspots and protecting sections at most urgent risk, looking at high tide alternative routes, managing invasive species and installing vegetated buffers.
There would also be long-term aims to build resilience, adapt to climate change, look at realignment and improve access for all.
However, the study, which has proposed some alternative routes, accepts there are constraints to realigning the path due to the multiple landowners/stakeholders, including the adjacent Brodick Golf Club.
It was agreed at the meeting that any realignment of the path using the golf course could lead to ‘difficulties’ between walkers and golfers.
Golfer Russell Duncan told the Banner afterwards. ‘I thought the meeting was worthwhile. Eleanor Morrison’s presentation was very professional, she had obviously done a lot of research.
‘Some of the potential new routes will not work as there would be too much walking traffic on the golf course and I speak as someone with a foot in both camps.
‘It is vital that any remedial action takes account of the violent storms from the east, as I mentioned at the meeting. Storms of this magnitude happen roughly once in 10 years. Prior to the sand extraction from the beach during the 1970s and 80s, the beach acted as a natural barrier to such storms and although there was always some damage, it wasn’t critical. The next time such a storm (low pressure, high tide, gale force winds from East or South East) hits, the damage to the land from the putting green to north of the Rosa Burn could be catastrophic.
‘My personal view is that, in the long term, there will need to be some rerouting along the main road pavement.’
Those who attended the meeting have been asked to provide their feedback before April 7 after which a detail report will be published by the middle of the month.
Malcolm Wilkinson of the Arran Access Trust said afterwards: ‘I was pleased to be joined by so many interested people to hear about EnviroCentre’s work on the Fisherman’s Walk.
‘The combined forces of sea-level rise, increased storm events, and coastal erosion are already affecting the footpath, the golf course, and several other key locations. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss those changes and to look at potential options to manage this dynamic coastline.
‘I was heartened to hear many constructive ideas on how to tackle these problems and also for the call from several attendees for a collaborative effort to tackle this. I look forward to continuing the discussion and working with others on possible solutions.’
The project is supported by NatureScot, through the Better Places Green Recovery Fund. Anyone who would like a copy of the presentation or if you would like to be kept up to date with the project should get in touch with Malcolm at: info@ArranGeopark.co.uk