Lothians face huge bill after storms batter the coastline

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EDINBURGH and the Lothians were counting the cost today after ferocious storms battered the coastline as the wintry weather caused travel chaos, school closures and serious damage.

Walkers visiting the promenade at Cramond yesterday were left stunned by the scale of the damage caused by the waves, with sections of Tarmac ripped up, walls destroyed and heavy rocks scattered across the pavements.

Across the Lothians, heavy snow, lashing rain and high winds caused misery for commuters.

The worst of the damage in the Capital was seen along the coastline, with both Seafield and Portobello battered by huge waves.

Glen Eadie, 46, a cleaner for Scotia Gas Networks, said he had been stunned when he saw the extent of the damage at Cramond. "I normally walk to work along the promenade, but because the weather has been so bad I have taken my car," he said.

"I went for a walk and couldn't believe how serious the damage was. These waves must have been terrifying, as they have ripped up sections of Tarmac and thrown huge rocks all over the place."

In Midlothian, the heavy rain caused several roads to flood, and police were advising drivers to find alternative routes.

Gorebridge was particularly badly affected, while police patrols were turning drivers away from Penicuik.

Huge waves breached the harbour walls of North Berwick, with the damage expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Staff at the Sea Bird Centre, which sits on rocks alongside the harbour, slept in the building to try to prevent flooding.

The harbour's dinghy park was almost full of boats ahead of the scheduled start of the East Lothian Yacht Club's racing season, due to take place on Saturday.

However, some were swept out into harbour, while others broke their moorings and overturned.

Staff at the Sea Bird Centre say they believe most of the birds survived unscathed, but some nests were damaged.

Yesterday morning, 3,500 householders in the Lothians were amongst the 19,000 Scottish Power customers who lost power in south central Scotland.

Flooding left some cars in Whitecraig, East Lothian, partially submerged. Warnings remained in place throughout the day on The River Esk, The River Almond, Water of Leith, Braid Burn and River Tyne.

There was further chaos on the roads throughout the region, with the A1 passable but subject to heavy surface water. The A7 Old Dalkeith Road remained closed both ways this morning due to flooding between A720 Sheriffhall Roundabout and A7 Danderhall.

Train customers on east coast services between Newcastle and Edinburgh were advised to postpone their journeys following a series of landslips.

The section of the east coast main line was set to reopen as normal this morning.

However, there were cheers from the smaller sections of the local community when Midlothian closed all of their schools.

Some schools were also closed throughout the rest of the Lothians, including Brunstane Primary School in the Capital.

In West Lothian, Fauldhouse's Falahill and St John The Baptist primary schools were closed, alongside Our Lady Primary School in Stoneyburn and Addiewell Primary.

In East Lothian, Humbie and Yester primaries were closed.


TRIBUTES were paid today to a teenage girl killed when a coach taking pupils on a school trip plunged into a river.

Natasha Paton, from Cleghorn, South Lanarkshire, who would have been 18 next week, died and several of her friends were hurt when the bus skidded off a bridge into a river during a snowstorm.

The Lanark Grammar School pupils had just set off on an excursion to Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire when the coach went out of control yesterday.

Natasha's parents said: "Natasha will be greatly missed by all who knew her."