Call for action to protect piece of Dysart history

Cllr Cameron and Joleen Carrington at the site of the rockfall. Pics by FPA
Cllr Cameron and Joleen Carrington at the site of the rockfall. Pics by FPA

Four years after his predecessor made exactly the same appeal, a councillor is calling for urgent action on a historic walk and section of the Fife Coastal Path at Dysart.

Councillor Ian Cameron says that in recent months cracks in an ancient stone wall at the Aisler on the shoreline around from the harbour, have expanded and more rock has fallen from the wall, posing a danger to walkers.

Cllr Cameron at the sealed off steps

Cllr Cameron at the sealed off steps

And he is warning that if urgent action is not taken to repair the wall alongside the tunnel and steps leading from Dysart harbour up to Sailors Walk and Ravenscraig Park, which have been closed off for years, then they could be lost for good.

Temporary fences to block off the area from the public were washed over by the incoming tide, but Fife Council has promised that money from the Common Good Fund will be used to carry out a temporary solution, including creating a 1.5 metre high stone barrier from the fallen rocks and putting warning signs to deter people from accessing the area.

And it says that the council has been working on a report, including full costings for a package of remedial work to be carried out.

Four years ago the Press carried an almost identical appeal for action from the late Councillor Kay Carrington who was passionate about preserving Dysart’s strong heritage.

And, in the wake of the success of the hit television drama Outlander, Dysart harbour, which featured as the 17th century port of Le Havre in France, has been attracting many more visitors.

And Councillor Cameron, who is helping villagers to make the most of the Outlander effect, says it is vital that action is taken soon.

“Nothing has changed in the four years since Cllr Carrington made the appeal, and the area is steadily deteriorating,” he said.

“I met with one of the council’s engineers and showed him where the cracks were expanding and the rocks falling down and more fences were put up to keep the area safe, but I am pushing for a survey of the whole area, including nearby parts of the Coastal Path which are also in danger of being lost, to be carried out with a view of looking for some major funding as part of an overall package to help preserve the area for future generations.

“We can’t let this drag on for another four years with nothing being done.”

Joleen Carrington, chairman of Dysart Community Council, and daughter-in-law of Kay Carrington, added: “Before Kay passed away there was talk of putting in steel pillars to shore up the rocks before it was fixed properly, but I don’t think anything was done.”

Donald Grant, locality manager, said: “We’ve engaged the services of specialist engineering geologists and a design for buttressing the overhang with concrete and rock has been completed. However, there are complications with the site in terms of access, safety and planning. These need to be taken into account to allow the works to be costed as accurately as possible.

“In terms of access and safety, costs for bringing in concrete and stone from the sea would be high and the only other practical access is via the harbour. We will have to bring materials down to a compound in the public car park and then ferry them round the harbour using small dumpers. Coupled with working in the intertidal zone and beneath a partly collapsed cliff, we’ve used a specialist to produce the necessary pre-construction documentation.

“We’ve consulted with the planners regarding appropriate solutions. The project will require planning consent and listed building consent. Historic Scotland (now Historic Environment Scotland) will have to be notified due to its proximity to the historic landscaped area associated with Ravenscraig Park. The site lies just outwith the SSSI but would need to be referenced depending on the works involved. The site is partially within the boundary of the Dysart harbour category B Listed Building and in part Dysart House and Ravenscraig Park, walls and railings also category B. The site lies within the Dysart Conservation Area.

“The intention is to obtain an updated price for the works and use this to determine the budget. This would then be presented to Cllr Cameron and the other ward members, along with the Community Manager, for discussion about taking funding forward.

“The original scheme was for rock netting and fencing. However, the steps would be permanently blocked off as unsafe. Local members wanted the steps saved and an alternative scheme using rock armour was suggested. This substantially increased the costs and meant that a more complex project required to be developed.”