St Andrews: Crucial coastal protection work part of Scotland’s largest programme of dune restoration

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Crucial coastal protection work is currently being carried out at St Andrews West Sands as part of what is now Scotland’s largest and longest running programme of dune restoration.

Efforts to enhance the famous Fife dunes began back in 2010 following serious storm damage and a team has been back out on site this week for the next phase of the project.

Two new ‘clavicular gate’ dunes are being built while two large, low areas of the dune ridge are being infilled.

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The dunes will also be fenced to assist trapping sand and planted with Marram and Lyme grass harvested locally, helping stabilise the new sand dunes.

Crucial coastal protection work is currently being carried out at St Andrews West SandsCrucial coastal protection work is currently being carried out at St Andrews West Sands
Crucial coastal protection work is currently being carried out at St Andrews West Sands

To ensure the safety of the team and visitors to the area, certain access routes through the dunes have been closed off since Monday and the southern part of the beach will be restricted during operations which are due to end on Sunday.

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Ranald Strachan, St Andrews Links Trust environmental development officer, explained: “Since 2010 we have restored up to 2.5km of dune gaining the equivalent ground of eight holes of golf course through adding dunes, planting grasses, fencing dunes and natural build up.

“The ‘gate’ dunes are inspired by the Romans and how they built their marching camps.

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“Designed to protect straight access paths through the dunes from flooding by simply adding a new dune to offset the straight path on the beach side.

“Alongside the path protections we will be infilling two very low areas of dune with new sand, this will help raise the dune ridge and adds another level of protection to the most popular part of the beach.

“Our experienced fencing team will be restoring the dune fences and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and local volunteers will be assisting with the replanting of the new dunes.”

Funded under NatureScot’s ‘Nature Restoration Fund’, St Andrews Links will lead on the project with GolfLink Evolve taking care of the sand movement.

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Due to large dump trucks travelling at a reasonable speed on the beach, the public are being asked not to stop or play within restricted areas and dogs should be kept on their leads around any machinery.

Signage has also been put in place to help members of the public navigate the area and all routes will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

Mr Strachan continued: “We are recommending visitors keep clear of the area during this time.

“This work is a vital part of ensuring the dunes are in good health and size as they are our first line of protection against North Sea storms.

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“The dunes are also a vital part of the beach experience for anyone visiting St Andrews Links and West Sands, and a great habitat for wildlife.

“With the incredible support of our local community and visitors from far and wide who have all helped us immensely, either by actively supporting the programme or simply by allowing us to restore the dunes, we hope to take the next step towards a more robust and sustainable beach.”

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