A Dunrossness fisherman has called on the authorities to act now to dig away wind-blown sand blocking access to the popular Scousburgh Sand and clogging up the car park.
Harold Sutherland uses the beach, commonly known as Spiggie, to access his creel boat which is moored in the voe. On Tuesday after the spate of northerlies he was confronted with a large fan of sand right across the opening, preventing him using his quad bike to transport heavy boxes of bait.
Mr Sutherland described it as being like somebody had dumped a lorry load of sand at the entrance, which is the only access to the beach. “You would hardly believe the wind would put that amount of sand in over the weekend,” he said.
While he is hindered in his activity he said he was more concerned about the problems posed for folk visiting the beach and trying to use the car park. It is one of the most popular spots in Shetland with locals and tourists alike. Mr Sutherland said it was usually accessible to all, including a group of people in wheelchairs who sit on the sands behind a windbreak.
“There’s absolutely no access to the Sand with this,” he said. “It’s pathetic for a tourist attraction of a beach. If it had been St Ninian’s Isle sand it would not have got like this.”
For several years the car park has been gradually filling in with sand so that none of the tarred surface is now visible and the perimeter fence has disappeared, allowing sheep to escape.
Where 25-30 cars used to be able to park only about 12 would fit now, Mr Sutherland said. On sunny days some people have to park next to the main road past Spiggie Loch instead, causing traffic flow problems.
He has tried and failed to get official action for some time now. In four previous years when there have been frequent northerlies he has resorted to paying to clear the opening himself. On Tuesday he was facing having to take some immediate action again so he can carry on his fishing business. He reckoned 60 or 70 tonnes of sand would need to be removed by a digger to clear the problem.
Mr Sutherland has complained to local councillor Allison Duncan several times and the matter was passed to fellow councillor Jim Budge for action. An approach to Dunrossness Community Council was rejected because it had no money due to cutbacks.
SIC head of roads Ian Halcrow said yesterday the road and car park were not the council’s responsibility although he believed work had been carried out there in the past by other public bodies.
Mr Budge said yesterday the council’s coastal protection official Jonathan Duncan had looked at the problem but there was no easy solution to what would be an ongoing problem.
“We have looked at it and so far not been able to come up with a satisfactory answer,” he said. “It is difficult to see a long-term solution.”
Mr Budge suspected it might be down to the various landowners to remedy the problem themselves. That is what he has to do himself with the road to St Ninian’s Isle beach, which his family owns. It was tarred with the help of grant aid through countryside access funding and he thought that might be how the Spiggie road and car park were tarred too. He pledged to raise the matter again at the next meeting of the community council.
Mr Duncan said yesterday he supported Mr Sutherland’s case and commended him for clearing sand in past years at his own expense. “I applaud the man for what he’s done,” he said. “We must keep an access clear for our tourist trade because we have a hotel just up the road and a boarding house at the back of the loch. We have to see what can be done.”