Work starts to restore St Andrews famous dunes

West Sands, St Andrews
West Sands, St Andrews

Improvement works at West Sands in St Andrews, go ahead this week in a bid to restore the dunes along the beach which were badly damaged by high tides and strong winds in recent years.

Following the stormy weather in March 2010 a substantial amount of sand in the dunes was lost and, while some parts have recovered over subsequent years, a few areas have remained vulnerable to further erosion.

The works, led by the Links Trust with support from Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and the West Sands Partnership, mark the fourth phase of the restoration process and will see sand from the beach being extracted in order to conduct the necessary repair works to the dunes. The fencing around the dunes will also be renewed over the coming weeks, in order to allow the area to naturally replenish and grow without any interruptions by foot traffic.

West Sands Partnership (WSP) is a collaborative group led by the Links Trust, Fife Council, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, The R&A, Scottish National Heritage and St Andrews University. The WSP is responsible for steering the project and ensuring West Sands beach is restored to the greatest possible standard.

Gordon Moir, director of greenkeeping, St Andrews Links Trust said: “The historic, recreational and economic value of the West Sands and surrounding area to St Andrews makes it vitally important they are protected. We are delighted to be part of the West Sands Partnership, which brings together many strands of expertise and know-how, and has proven to be a great example of collaborative working.

“As the winter months have shown, we are not immune to the strong winds and high tides so it is important that this work continues. This week we have spent three days working on the dunes with six staff repairing damage to the blow outs. We will look to continue this work and would like to thank our partners and the community for their continued support.”

Ranald Strachan, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Ranger, said: “The repair works at West Sands have been long awaited, and are vital to help ensure the sand dunes along the beach are safe to the public. We have been working closely with the Links Trust to ensure the process goes smoothly, and are delighted to offer our support in helping to make sure the dunes are restored towards their natural state.

“The fourth phase of the works will utilise funds from The Open legacy project in order to protect and support the blowout restoration. Sand dunes can help protect the beach and surrounding area from erosion, so it’s vital that we work together with the WSP to support the Links Trust in ensuring they are repaired to a high standard.”

The 144TH Open was played last year in St Andrews with 237,000 spectators attending the Championship throughout the week and millions more around the world watching on television.

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director – Championships at The R&A, said, “Sustainable management of the environment around the West Sands is extremely important and we are delighted that through the success of The Open we can support this restoration work. We know the Championship brings direct economic benefit to St Andrews and Scotland as a whole but it also enables us to achieve lasting environmental benefits for the town.”

Fife Coast and Countryside Trust have arranged a day for volunteers to visit West Sands and transplant marram grass from other areas of the dunes in order to help stabilise the new sand deposits. Members of the public who would like to get involved with the restoration project on Saturday February 20, are invited to contact Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Ranger Ranald Strachan via phone on 01592 656080.

For more information on Fife Coast and Countryside Trust please visit www.fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk.