A North East MSP has accused Angus Council of being “content to leave Montrose to the sea” in a row over its response to coastal erosion.
Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles has accused the local authority of passing responsibility for Montrose’s coastal defences on to the golf links.
MSPs from across the political divide have joined forces to press the council over the problem.
A joint letter from Mr Rumbles, Conservative Liam Kerr and SNP member Mairi Evans has demanded to know what measures are planned to ensure the town’s protection.
It follows concerns that work carried out by the council has removed some of the rock armour protection around the links course, which is the fifth oldest in the world.
Mr Rumbles described the council’s position as “incredibly short sighted”.
He said: “The course is an important local business and if they are forced to relocate it is just a matter of time before the dunes erode all the way back to residential areas of the town.
“This is an opportunity for the council and the Scottish Government to grab the bull by the horns and work together with the golf club to protect Montrose for decades to come.
“Instead they seem content to leave Montrose to the sea.
“I will continue to argue for funding, but for the moment the links have been forced to look at other ways the project can be financed through grants and loans.”
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East Region, added: “We have seen the devastating consequences of flooding elsewhere in the North East, with the impact of Strom Frank on areas like Royal Deeside still fresh in the mind.
“The warning from the Royal Montrose Golf Club could not be more stark — just one storm at spring tide could cause severe flooding that would affect not only the golf links, but businesses and households through the town itself.”
“I should stress that this is not a political issue — there is cross party support from Scottish Conservative, Liberal Democrat and SNP MSPs from the North East region.
“We all want what is best for the area.
“In fact, we welcome the work that Angus Council has done so far.
“However, given the constraints on local government budgets, we may well require the intervention of the Scottish Government in order to protect the town.”
Ms Evans said: “We have the same goal on this — to find the best solution for Montrose — so rather than tackling it individually, it makes complete sense for us to put politics to the side and get the very best outcome for our community.”
Council waits for flood study result
The council’s chief executive has made clear the council’s position that it is landowners’ responsibilities to protect their property from coastal erosion and flooding.
In his reply to the MSPs, Richard Stiff says the council awaits the results of the Montrose Flood Protection Study.
“This study is to be completed timeously so as to allow for any identified actions to manage flood and coastal risk to be consider for inclusion in the second generation local flood risk management plan and thus Scottish Government funding for flood and coastal capital monies available from 2022-28,” he stated.
He said a report passed by councillors in January made it clear that it was Montrose Golf Links Limited’s responsibility to “plan for, fund and execute changes and not Angus Council”.
The shoreline management plan for Montrose recommended a “managed retreat” by the golf links to relocate the golf holes at most risk.
Rock armour previously around the third tee had now been moved to along the golf course frontage to the second tee strong point to protect an access ramp which has been subject to periodic storm damage.
“These works were undertaken in consultation with Montrose Golf Links Limited and included additional temporary rock armour defences to protect the second tee for the winter period,” said Mr Stiff.
Petition to ‘save’ town gathers impetus
A Montrose man has set up a petition, aimed at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, to protect the town from coastal erosion.
Douglas Smith set up an online petition entitled Save Montrose from the waves.
The target number of signatures was originally set at 1,000 and currently it has received 1,170.
Mr Smith said: “I am concerned that in spite of several groups engaging with the council over a period of many years, the plan to protect Montrose, its golf course, the Links and the town itself is insufficient.”
The petition can be found here.