Bervie Braes road may see traffic again

A VITAL tourist route in Aberdeenshire is set to reopen to light traffic - four years after being closed because of landslide fears.

• The Bervie Braes route is to reopen to light traffic after being closed for four years

• Fears of landslide kept route linking Stonehaven with Dunnottar Castle ruins closed

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• Proposals to reopen route would mean road would only operate May-October on one-way basis with 20mph speed limit

The Bervie Braes above the coastal town of Stonehaven carries the road which links the burgh with the spectacular ruins of Dunnottar Castle, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the north east.

The once busy route above the cliffs has been closed since December, 2009, when the route was closed following a series of landslips after days of torrential rain flooded homes and businesses in the centre of the town.

A recent report by the Stonehaven Town Partnership estimated that reopening the road could be worth up to £9 million to businesses in the area.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Kincardine and Mearns area committee are next Tuesday expected to approve proposals which would allow the road to be reopened to traffic between May and October, operating the route one-way, with a weight restriction of three tonnes and a 20mph speed limit.

The scheme is estimated to cost £300,000 and funds for the project have still to be secured.

Stephen Archer, the council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, states in a report to the committee: “A seasonal ‘part time’ prohibition of driving will effectively close the road to vehicular traffic from, say,

November to April, the periods of highest rainfall and therefore the most likely time for elevated ground water levels.

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“During the ‘summer’ open period, a protocol will also be established to trigger a closure of the road should the rain pattern be unseasonably wet, and lead to concerns with regard to ground water levels and slope stability.”

He continued: “This road is not the only route into Stonehaven from the south, and various alternative routes exist. However, the local community appears to feel strongly that this link is vital in terms of Stonehaven’s economy, particularly the tourist offering.

“Dunnottar Castle is a major tourist attraction in the area, and the local business community feel that the direct link, down the Bervie Braes road, provides a valuable opportunity to draw more visitors into the town.

“This may well be an accurate assessment of the importance of the road, however no objective data is available to assess the historic usage of this route.”

Mr Archer added: “There is no funding within the existing budget to allocate further cost allocations to the Bervie Braes project. A request will require to be made to Policy and Resources Committee to release appropriate funding.”

A total of £3 million has already been spent stabilising the lowers slopes of the Bervie Braes to prevent the threat of landslips affecting homes in the harbour area of the town.