Caravan site damages conservation area

the caravan site at St Cyrus
the caravan site at St Cyrus

A travellers’ caravan site which has begun to be built near the St Cyrus National Nature Reserve has “damaged” an area of conservation.

The site was erected on Sunday, September 22, before a planning application was submitted to Aberdeenshire Council, however not all the works need planning permission.

The grassland, which is on an embankment at the back of the field where the caravan site is being built, is considered an area of special protection and is home to breeding birds, butterflies and moths.

Ewan Lawrie, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) operations officer for the area, said: “We were contacted by members of the public about works near St Cyrus National Nature Reserve. It appears that part of these works have damaged some of the grassland which is a feature of the St Cyrus and Kinnnaber Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).”

SSSIs are important areas of land and water that the SNH considers to best represent Scotland’s natural heritage.

Mr Lawrie added: “Parts of the works in St Cyrus that impinge on the SSSI were done without consent from SNH. We have therefore reported the matter to the police for further investigation.” Police said enquires are ongoing.

SNH’s operations officer added: “About 13 per cent of Scotland is designated as SSSIs, and in Aberdeenshire it is about six per cent. The vast majority of these sites are owned and managed privately and it is extremely rare for problems to arise.

“Our long term aim on the St Cyrus site is to see the natural grassland restored.”

The SNH said the extent of the damage is unknown at this stage.