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  • Writer's pictureGillian Anderson (Local Democracy Reporter)

Winter storms and high tides cause significant damage to sand dune systems in Co Antrim

Sand dunes at Waterfoot Beach, County Antrim where coastal erosion is having an impact.

Significant damage and erosion has taken place at a number of sand dune systems along the north coast over the winter months.

A County Antrim caravan park has also had some of its foundations undermined by coastal erosion.

The dunes at Waterfoot in particular have seen significant damage leading Sinn Fein Councillor Oliver McMullan and SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop to call on the Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council’s Estates team to take action to address the issue before further damage occurs.

Councillor McMullan said:

“Something has to be done immediately before we lose the sand dunes completely, the top half of the beach and the caravan park at the back is in danger as well.

“If we leave it any longer we are going to lose the whole length of the beach.”

(L-R) Sinn Fein Councillor Oliver McMullan; the damage caused by coastal erosion at Waterfoot; and SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop.

Councillor McKillop agreed saying:

“There has been extensive damage to the sand dunes at Waterfoot due to the seasonally high tides and extreme weather conditions and it’s heartbreaking to see the after effects of the coastal erosion on the sand dunes.

“I have spoken to the Countryside Officer on many occasions on what could be done short term and long term and we need to explore all the different suggestions and look for some expert advice.

“In the short term we need some action and we as a committee need to reinstate the chestnut pailing that has been destroyed and plant marram grass immediately to try and save the sand dunes at Waterfoot.”

Council’s Head of Tourism and Recreation, Peter Thompson confirmed that the Coast and Countryside team were aware of the damage at Waterfoot.

Waterfoot Beach, County Antrim

He said:

“There were a significant amount of very strong easterlies combined with high tides that caused quite a bit of coastal damage along the eastern seaboard of our council area, including causing quite a bit of damage at Cushendall Caravan Park, undermining some of the foundations there.

“With regards to Waterfoot, the Coast and Countryside team have already met with the Estates team and have asked that we look into reinstatement of the chestnut pailing element of the site and to plant that area with marram grass. So that has in fact been actioned.”

When asked how long it would be before the remedial work would begin, Mr Thompson responded:

“We have some of the chestnut fencing in stock and the rest we are buying it in so we will be getting it put up within the next number of weeks, as soon as we possibly can.

“This is a naturally reccurring process. You can see at Whiterocks where a significant amount of erosion has taken place along our northern face of coastline as well.

“We have got to do our best to stabilise the dunes systems wherever possible and that’s what we will endeavour to do at that site.”

Following the discussion Councillor McMullan said:

“This is great news. At least the officials have recognised the need to begin work immediately and it is a great result for this award-winning beach.”


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