Storm of protest over promenade barriers

The waves crashing into Eyemouth harbour on Monday were 20-foot high.
The waves crashing into Eyemouth harbour on Monday were 20-foot high.

Public consultation has begun on Scottish Borders Council’s plan to dissuade people from using Eyemouth promenade at times of flooding.

Council officer Jim Fraser and David Green, flood and coastal management team leader, gave a presentation at Eyemouth Town Community Council’s Monday night meeting.

They revealed more about the process whereby SBC had to act under a “moral obligation” and a legal requirement to protect the public.

The officers repeated that the Eyemouth Seawall Study, which led to the recommendation of barriers on the promenade, was commissioned back in March 2012, before the tragedy that saw 14-year old Katie-Lou MacLean pulled out to sea.

Katie’s father, Andy MacLean, said: “We welcome any move that will help prevent someone else going through what Katie-Lou went through. Since her accident a lot of focus has been placed on improving the safety of Eyemouth seafront. It’s too little too late for Katie but we’re hoping that similar outcomes can be avoided as a result of these actions.”

Asked if he thought the move to erect barriers during flood warnings was necessary, councillor Jim Fullarton said: “Of course it is. We had the tragedy just over a year ago and that was local girls.

“It really drove it home that some sort of warning system and way of keeping people off the Bantry was needed.”

Mr Fullarton added: “The council had to respond and everybody has been involved with this.”

Mr Green and Mr Fraser also reiterated that the planned barriers would in no way prevent people from accessing their homes, businesses or the harbour.

Residents attended the meeting to register their concern over the plan, and were not convinced that discouraging people from walking the promenade at times of flooding was anything other than common sense.

The proposed cost of the barriers, at £11,000, together with the study costs of another £12,000, was roundly criticised.

The practicality of the scheme, which would see barriers placed at more than 20 points along the promenade, was also questioned.

Community members - many of whom already volunteer in flood prevention efforts - felt that setting up barriers for the “two or three hours” of flooding danger suggested by the SBC officers was unrealistic and impractical.

In a fractious meeting, suggestions were made that flags, lights and even people acting as wardens could be used instead of the barriers. However, councillors stressed the fact that, in the words of honorary provost Jemma Landels, “This is going to happen, like it or not.”