Jonathan: This morning’s walk with Tilly was from the road end at South Smerclete along the track at the head of the beach and round the point at Ceann a’ Garraidh. A cold grey dawn, blustry wind carrying spots of rain; the breath rasps from the cattle browsing the marram grass and morsels of seaweed; great heaps of brown-gold kelp cast onto the beach, and strewn with wind-blown flotsom. Strangely beautiful!
Last night I went to a follow-up public meeting regarding proposed coastal defence works between Poll a Chara and Ludag. Council’s drawings revised – but still not good. They just don’t seem to have the sensitivity or even the will, and I doubt also the skills, to come up with a design of the quality that we should we be able to expect in this day and age, not least in an area designated of natural beauty, ecological importance and socio-economic vulnerability.
The council officers present – one very senior – showed themselves to be arrogant and ignorant, giving out as bald fact justifications and excuses which showed either an extraordinary lack of technical knowledge, or a brazen expectation that we would swallow as truth whatever falsehood they chose to utter. My input, clearly that of a civil engineer, did appear to result in some hasty backtracking and indeed some concessions, but the arrogance was unabated.
The protection will be revetment – ramparts might be beter – of 4 tonne boulders, as found along causeways throughout the Outer Hebrides -constructed wherever the road runs close to the shore, which in effect means along the nice bits of beach around each of the bays, including ours outside the walled garden. There will rise to about half a metre to a metre above the road. They will be ugly enough from the land, but far worse from the shore, appearing almost as a military defensive installation. Not exactly a draw for tourists, and indeed our complaint is that there was no means provided for safe access, whether for pedestrians or for tractors etc collecting seaweed. Both are important to the economy of our community, the tourism likely to become increasingly important in the future.
The concessions were grudging: modification to provide this access would be considered, also reinstatement of sand and marram in front of completed revetment; but council not obliged to implement them. We need to keep up the pressure!