The coastal village of Pittenweem in Fife was hit by a powerful storm in November that caused severe damage to the seawall and threatened the homes of residents. Politicians from different parties visited the site on Friday to see the temporary repairs and hear the concerns of the locals.
Storm Babet wreaked havoc on the seawall
On November 3, 2023, Storm Babet brought strong winds and waves to the east coast of Scotland, causing extensive damage to the seawall that runs along Abbey Wall Road in Pittenweem. The storm tore down two walls and a path, exposing the gardens and foundations of several houses to the sea. Residents feared that their homes would be washed away by the next high tide or storm.
One of the residents, Rob Allen, told how he fell into a hole in the wall while walking his dog on the day of the storm. He said he was lucky to escape without serious injury, but he was very worried about his neighbour’s property, which had less protection from the water. He contacted Fife Council, hoping that they would take responsibility for the wall, but he was told that it was private land and the owners had to deal with it themselves.
Temporary repairs were made by volunteers and contractors
After the storm, the residents of Pittenweem rallied together to find a solution to the problem. They formed a group called the Pittenweem Seawall Action Group (PSAG), which raised funds and organised volunteers to help with the repairs. They also hired contractors to install metal sheet piles along the damaged section of the wall, creating a temporary barrier against the sea.
The PSAG said that the temporary repairs cost about £40,000, which was partly covered by donations from the public and local businesses. They also received support from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), which granted them a licence to carry out the emergency work. The PSAG thanked everyone who contributed to the project and said that they were relieved that the houses were now safe for the winter.
Politicians praised the community spirit and promised support
On Friday, December 29, 2023, a group of politicians visited Pittenweem to see the temporary repairs and meet with the PSAG and the residents. The group included the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker, and the SNP MP Stephen Gethins.
The politicians praised the community spirit and the resilience of the people of Pittenweem, who managed to overcome the crisis with their own efforts. They also acknowledged the challenges that the residents faced, such as the uncertainty over the ownership and the liability of the wall, the lack of insurance cover, and the need for a permanent solution. They promised to work together across party lines to support the PSAG and the residents in their quest for a long-term fix.
The PSAG welcomed the visit and said that they hoped that the politicians would keep their word and help them secure the funding and the permission for a permanent repair. They said that they wanted to restore the wall to its original condition and protect the heritage and the environment of Pittenweem. They also invited the public to visit the village and enjoy its attractions, such as the harbour, the cave, the church, and the annual arts festival.