Beach Group update October 2020
In 2020 the Beach Group focussed on the issues listed below, however a number of the projects have been put on hold because of the pandemic.:
Various options for seaweed removal were being considered by the Beach Group. SIt was agreed however that whilst there was a need for immediate action with regard to seaweed removal, there were a number of other projects involving Elie and Earlsferry beach and dunes e.g. the creation of a local traffic management system, creation of disability access paths, toilet block opening times and safety issues and excess sand at the Toft, which also required to be addressed.
Excess sand at the Toft
Various options were being considered for the long-term management of this issue, including closure of the path from the beach to the Toft. However, it became necessary in June 2020 to take immediate action as sand was causing the harbour road to become impassable for cars and bicycles. Local Councillor Linda Holt contacted the Roads and Transportation Services and asked for the sand to be removed. They responded that they were currently in Phase 2 of the Scottish Governments framework for returning to normal working practices which permits a soft start to some activities, when operatives can operate under safe systems of work and socially distance on site. Before any of these works commence they do have to ensure their method of work is safe to protect operatives on site as well as the public, therefore some work will take a little longer than usual to plan and execute. They do have to prioritise jobs relating to public safety utilising the resources they currently have. Their operatives were currently working on a rota basis and they were not at full capacity as yet.
However with assistance from a local farmer, the sand was removed. The local inspector did agree to check both areas again and arrange for the removal in the future of any sand causing an immediate safety issue.
Sea Defences (Admiralty Lane, Elie Ruby Bay)
It was noted that the sea defences at Elie Ruby Bay have been compromised and if not sorted now will get worse.
The group was advised that a sign in place explains that some of the defences are under private ownership and are maintained. However, the area to the East needs attention it was agreed that FCCT would contact Fife Council over this.
Ruby Bay Carpark
Discussion centred round the challenges and opportunities that the culture of staycations has created. A Motorhome Pilot Scheme was agreed. The Pilot was due to start at the end of April 2020 but due to the current pandemic which has put up challenges, realistically it may be towards the end of this year or towards the start of next year before work begins. The proposal was to put in place dedicated metered motorhome bays (Parking Charge Notice scheme- PCN) for overnight stays. Following discussion, it was proposed that the number of bays be increased from 5 to 8. It is anticipated that the PCN on its own won’t solve the traffic management issues in and around the locality, but it will help to ensure safer parking for Ruby Bay Carpark particularly in the evening times. The group agreed that there will have to be new infrastructures like toilets and Elsan tanks put in place to support this initiative. As discussed through consultation a funding stream may be made available from the PCN scheme to be reinvested into the Elie Ruby Bay Infrastructure.
During the pandemic, Robbie Blyth (FCCT) liaised with the campers and motorhomes at Ruby Bay on several occasions and invited them to leave, however they returned in ever increasing numbers which resulted in problems with the toilets and the risk of pollution.
Signage was ordered and put up on the site in July 2020. The hope was it would persuade some to not camp and either seek a proper campsite or indeed go home. It is hoped that things will get better in relation to the motorhomes once the Parking Charge Notice Scheme is introduced.
Thanks were given to Alex Nairn for arranging for the recent overflow car park at Elie Ruby Bay.This was a temporary measure put in place, but it has highlighted the serious challenges in relation to greater users’ numbers and the need for a traffic management plan.
Funding may possibly be available from the Fife Outdoor Tourism Infrastructure fund. Possible areas of work would include:
- Upgrade of facilities
- Provision of new facilities
- Environmental mitigation
- Improvements for wildlife
- Sustainable tourism
£1.1m funding would be available in support of suitable projects. The funding is specifically for rural areas. The aim is to tackle issues of increased visitor pressure which is having a negative impact on the visitor or community experience. Consideration was being given to seeking funding to tackle issues at Elie Harbour and Ruby Bay where there has been the delay in implementation of the permanent campervan arrangements (Parking Charge Notice scheme) due to the original lockdown.
Public Toilet Update
It was acknowledged the toilets need to have extended opening days to reflect service users’ numbers. Therefore, for the rest of this year FCCT have made a commitment to open Elie Harbour and Elie Ruby Bay as follows: September Noon – 18:00 & November / October Noon – 16:00 (7 days a week). It was noted that the Ship Inn picks up the overflow of people when the toilets are shut, and this puts pressure on the restaurant and pub.
It was noted that the whole of North East Fife and particularly the East Neuk has experienced lots of wild camping issues due to staycations and the lack of campsites.
Signage would be required advising against camping in recreational area such as picnic sites and carparks, however that the signage would require to be different for an area out-with the curtilage of the picnic / carpark area in keeping with the spirit of the Scottish Outdoors Access Code. Signage is the responsibility of Fife Council. However, the Community Engagement Team (Rangers) within FCCT is to be approached to see what can be done for next season in relation to text and public liaison.
An article in the local publication the Elie Herald newspaper, notifying the public what they can and cannot do in relation to wild camping and access etc. would also be helpful.