Councillors back Braes proposals

PROPOSED plans to stabilise the Bervie Braes took a step forward this week when councillors approved the project.

Members of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee unanimously supported the installation of landslip prevention measures at the Braes through the use of ‘soil-nailing’ and ‘rockfill’ techniques. Soil nailing involves inserting long reinfircing bars into the slope at an angle to stabilise it. The committee also heard that drains will be buried into the slope to improve drainage in future.

Some vegetation clearance has already taken place to allow the site to be cleared before the start of the nesting season, under permitted policies.

The application for full planning permission had been submitted by Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services section, using information provided by engineering experts.

A report put before the committee said: “In January 2010, adverse weather conditions caused a severe landslip and mudslide on the Bervie Braes, affecting the existing road and surrounding houses. Beyond this, there is a further history of landlsides on the Braes.”

Planning Officer Neil Stewart said that in the short-term there would be a dterimental impact on the area, and that it would be unlikely access to the footpaths would be available at all stages of the works on safety grounds, but he added that “overall, the public benefits outweigh any short-term impacts.”

The committee heard that the planning application had received no objections, and that landowners the Dewars Trust had written in support of the proposals.

Counillor Wendy Agnew expressed concern about the footpaths, and said that she hoped that they would be fully reinstated once work had been completed.

Councillor Mike Sullivan said: “Two words: I approve”.

His sentiment was echoed by Councillor Peter Bellarby, who said: “I thoroughly support this application and look forward to the work actually being done.”

The project may be scrapped as some residents living under the Braes are refusing to return liability waivers to allow it to go ahead. The deadline for their return is Friday March 25 and these, as well as tender returns, will go before the policy and resources committee for approval on April 21.

Following the meeting, committee chair Cllr Paul Melling said: “Approval of the planning application is an important step in this project, but we haven’t reached the end point just yet as a report will now come before the Policy and Resources Committee on April 21.

The proposals are expected to cost £3 million. £2 million will be provided by the Scottish Government, while £1 million is being provided by Aberdeenshire Council.