Public engagement exercises have been carried out to find out what north-east residents would like to see improved about coastal areas across the region.
Last year, Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee committed to spending £25,000 establishing the Coast Aberdeenshire project, which aims to promote and enhance awareness and wider use of the Aberdeenshire coastal path corridor resource.
Through this, it is looking to improve some of the existing sections of the paths.
During late January and early February, a public engagement exercise including an online survey and four webinars were held. The survey gathered almost 800 responses, while the webinars were attended by over 50 individuals.
A report is being brought to area committees for councillors to discuss, and outlines the different improvements that people said they would like to see across various areas in the north-east.
A report going before the Banff and Buchan area committee today said: “The public engagement exercise evidences strong interest in the coastal path resource, not only limited to the path itself but also reflecting the potential of its immediate hinterland and surrounding communities.”
A range of suggestions on physical ways that coastal paths around the north-east could be improved has been formed, based on residents who filled out the survey.
This includes ideas such as improved steps from Newburgh to Collieston, path repairs, improvements, maintenance and signage at Peterhead.
It also includes path repairs, improvements and maintenance and provision of new or connection paths at Pennan and path repairs, provision of new or connection paths and fixing issues around safety and accessibiity at Macduff.
From Fraserburgh to St Combs as well as path repairs and new paths, a cycle path was suggested, as was improved access and adding sea defences.
A wide range of other provisions were suggested for areas across the north-east, including lighting, water crossings, adding bins and seating, citing safety concerns, bike routes and more.
Aberdeenshire Council is hoping to bring forward two projects for funding – the Invercairn Path Project, and a focus on infrastructure between Cullen and Sandend, which will then allow a wider number of coastal projects to be developed over time.
The report adds: “Having considered feedback from the Consultation and engagement exercise alongside the Proposals Assessment criteria, it is recommended that the Invercairn Path Project be developed towards submission of a funding application at this stage.
“In terms of the proposals assessment criteria, this stands out as a ‘mature’ project, closest to being ready for submission to a funding body. A community group is available and ready to work with Aberdeenshire Council and AJA in the short term, there is a self-evident link to the coast, and a good fit with strategic priorities under all three pillars (as per Section 5 of this report).
“As planning permission may be required for the formation of any new bridge crossing, this and other details or consents would be progressed along with the submission.
“In order to support the delivery of a number of the more complex projects, including a focus initially on the Cullen to Sandend Infrastructure, it is proposed that the resourcing of a project officer forms the key element of a second funding application.
“This will allow a wider number of coastal projects to be subsequently developed over time, in partnership with local groups, and assist with the establishment of the project forum and delivery of the management and maintenance strategy. A project officer will also support capacity building for local community groups, who are anticipated as key partners in the future management and maintenance of the coastal path assets.”