I fully agree with Jeff Merrifield’s horror (Readers’ Views, 7th June) when surrounded and affronted by noisy quad machines charging up and down St Ninian’s Isle beach tombolo.
The St Ninian’s tombolo is the largest geomorphologically active sand tombolo in Britain. The size (c. 500m long) and almost perfect symmetry of the tombolo is unique. The tombolo, composed of a shelly sand overlying a shingle base, is part of a dynamic and complex nearshore sediment circulation system.
Although tombolos are relatively common along submerged coasts such as the Shetland Isles, it is the exceptional scale, composition and dynamism of St Ninian’s tombolo that are of particular scientific interest. This interest is enhanced by the flanking windblown deposits of dunes and dune grassland.
Conservation of this key site for coastal geomorphology is of the utmost importance; any disturbance of the sediment dynamics of the system may be critical to the tombolo’s long-term existence.
In 2007 the St Ninian’s Isle tombolo won a Keep Scotland Beautiful Seaside Award. Allowing vehicles on to this beautiful and unique beach is a travesty and makes a complete mockery of both this award and in maintaining our tombolo as a place of great scientific interest. In addition, visitors to this major tourist attraction will be put off coming if these vehicles are allowed to continue their rampage.
Apart from passing a local by-law making it illegal for such vehicles access to the tombolo and by posting signs, in order to to reinforce this by-law, it would be a simple task to install a large lockable gate and associated fencing that would only allow the local crofter and other authorised accesses to the beach.
A smaller “kissing” gate could also be installed to allow person access – but not large enough to allow quads or other unauthorised vehicle access.
I encourage folk to lobby their local councillor and the SIC to immediately instigate such measures so as to finally stop this intrusion on one of the most unique beauty spots in the UK.