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Golspie breakwater restoration project ditched after wave modelling shows infrastructure would need to be 6m high

By Caroline McMorran

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An ambitious flood protection project to restore Golspie’s Victorian breakwater is set to be shelved after marine engineers reported that the infrastructure would need to be raised to at least six metres high.

Development group Go Golspie, Golspie Community Council and a local flood group are looking into flood protection schemes for the village, which has been officially identified as one of 42 “potentially vulnerable” areas for flooding in Scotland.

The existing breakwater, which can be seen at low tide, lies some way out from the front shore at Golspie.
The existing breakwater, which can be seen at low tide, lies some way out from the front shore at Golspie.

Two devastating floods were experienced in Golspie in 2012 and 2014. On both occasions there was extensive damage.

It had been thought that the £300,000 scheme to repair the historic breakwater, known as the Dickie Wall, would help reduce the energy generated by waves before they reached the seawall.

But wave modelling studies undertaken by Dingwall based marine consulting civil engineers Wallace Stone have found that the breakwater would need to be at least six metres in height from the sea bed to be effective.

The existing breakwater, which is in disrepair, is estimated to be between 2-3m in height.

Golspie community councillors now feel that the visual impact of such a high breakwater would be unacceptable and that a more “natural” solution should be found.

Chairman Ian Sutherland said he had been “shocked” when he read the results of the wave modelling.

Council secretary Henrietta Marriott said: “It would not be attractive to look at and would effectively create a mini marina.

“The modellers themselves were surprised a the results. They expected it to be more effective.”

She added: “We have gone back to the engineers and they are putting their thinking caps on to come up with alternative options that may prove to be better.”

Since receiving the wave modelling findings, lead organisation Go Golspie has made contact with Highland Council climate change coordinator Joe Perry, who is undertaking his own research which encompasses Golspie and Coul Links.

It is hoped the research will eventually underpin an application for funding to the Scottish Government.

Mrs Marriott said: “The proposals will all be nature based solutions such as enhancing sand dunes, introducing oyster and mussel beds and creating stepped embankments, which should help reduce wave energy."

A public meeting will be held, possibly in early June, to inform local people about any potential projects that have been identified and to invite feedback.

Mrs Marriott said: “Everybody involved has agreed that doing nothing is not an option.”

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