The world famous golf courses at St Andrews are soon to be better protected from the effects of coastal erosion as the installation of permanent defences can now get under way. Planning permission from Fife Council has been granted to the St Andrews Links Trust, the charitable organisation which manages the courses, to start work immediately along the Eden Estuary which borders the north-west side of the Links.
“We have worked long and hard in order to reach a long-term and effective solution which is satisfactory to everyone concerned,” said Alan McGregor, general manager of St Andrews Links Trust. “It is a great relief that planning permission has been granted and we can now install these essential defences before the winter sets in.”
Of the six courses on the Links, the most vulnerable is the 103-year-old Jubilee Course as the 8th hole is now only yards away from the high tide level, following severe erosion of the dunes during storms last winter.
The defences to be put in place are a combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ options. The hard option refers to the stone-filled wire structures or gabions, which will now be installed along the 100 metre stretch of unprotected dunes. These will be sloping rather than the vertical type already in place further along the estuary. The ‘soft’ option involves replenishing the dunes with 12,000 cubic metres of sand.
The dunes between the estuary and the golf courses are environmentally sensitive and a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The Trust consulted closely with Scottish Natural Heritage, Fife Council Ranger Service and the Roads Department, the RSPB, the Sea Mammal Research Institute, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and HR Wallingford (engineers) to come up with a defence plan that will be effective in protecting both the dunes and the links. It also commissioned an environmental statement from St Andrews University, which supported the protection plan.
The Trust spent around £100,000 last year on maintenance of the existing gabions and these new defences will cost in the region of £200,000.
“St Andrews Links is a unique site of historical and cultural significance as well as one of the top sporting venues in the Britain. The Trust’s prime responsibility is to protect the Links and putting effective defences in place is a matter of urgency,” said Mr McGregor.