Elie and Earlsferry Beach Group
Notes from meeting held on 26 July 2022
Present: Angela Anderson; Robbie Blythe; Fiona Corps; Keith Dewhurst; Alycia Hayes; Andrew Ovenstone
- Seaweed management
Robbie advised that seaweed has recently been removed from the beach. Fife Council will remove the seaweed on request as with Anstruther, where it is removed as required. The matter is however down to availability of resources and historic challenges.
Discussion also centred on whether to contact Shell Bay caravan park for use of their beach rake. However, on reflection it was felt that the current arrangements with Fife Council were working satisfactorily. Regular raking is also not necessarily a good thing and there is a need to leave a small strandline. There are also issues over insurance and public liability.
Action: A decision was taken to see how we get on this year and then review the situation.
- Sand on Harbour Road
Robbie advised that Transport Services are now well versed in monitoring and removing the sand deposits. Robbie indicated that as the Harbour Trust were concerned about excess, possibly contaminated sand being dumped in the harbour, they are also going to monitor the situation.
Action: Angela to contact the Harbour Trust and investigate their possible representation on the Beach Group.
- Disabled access to the beach
Discussion centred round the need for ease of access to the beach. Andrew reminded the group there is disabled access opposite his house at the Toft. However, it is covered by a deep layer of sand.
Keith mentioned the possibility of a ramp or matting being made available to roll out as required and facilitate access by wheelchairs. One of the challenges would be access to the beach from the hard standing, whilst needing to deal with the rise and fall of the sand levels.
Discussion centred round the following:
- need for hoists and storage of mats/beach wheelchairs
- need for a suitable access point onto the beach
- need for a means of egress from the beach at different points en-route
Fiona provided information on the Paxton Centre at Lundin Links where transport across the beach via a horse and cart can be organised by one of their Trustees.
Robbie wondered whether Elie Harbour was the best place for access to a beach by wheelchair users and whether Leven beach might be better suited to this.
Action: Angela to contact Angus Meldrum regarding possible access via the Water-sports Centre and management of the activity.
: Angela to contact the Paxton Centre
: Angela to establish a group to discuss the way forward
- Provision of a bin at the Toft
There has been ongoing concern about the Ship Inn bins being used by people to deposit their rubbish when exiting the beach. The placement of a bin at the exit by the Toft was considered but there was concern that this bin as well as those at the Ship Inn would continue to be filled by waste from the rented properties nearby as well as that deposited by beach users. More regular uplift of waste from rented properties was required to deal with this situation but Robbie advised resources are limited.
Action: Robbie to arrange for notices to be placed on bins regarding appropriate sites for deposition of waste.
- Sinkholes at Ruby Bay
There has been difficulty in establishing ownership of the land behind the seawall defences at Ruby Bay. The sinkholes do however require to be repaired. Robbie has written to Transport Services about the issue and will raise the matter again.
Action: Robbie to contact Transport Services about the need for work to be undertaken to repair the sinkholes
: Angela to investigate ownership with the History Society
- Ruby Bay motor-home traffic management system
Robbie advised the new system has been in place since 15 July 2022. It seems to be working well. Advisory notices are issued to those members of the public who have not complied with the rules. As a result, the number of cases of inappropriate parking has reduced, which is encouraging. The aim is to continue to educate and engage with the public regarding appropriate parking. However large tents are still appearing.
Action: Robbie to continue to look across Fife for more parking space for motorhomes He is also keen to receive feedback on the new system.
- Wild camping and toilet provision
Currently a notice providing information on appropriate areas for erecting a tent has been placed in the Ruby Bay area. Guidance leaflets are also available for those wishing to camp.
In addition, a corner of the land at Ruby Bay has been fenced off for use on application by individual groups. Procedures are in place to deal with the applications. The system seems to be working well.
A disabled toilet with radar key access is available overnight from 6pm to 10am.
When the new toilet block is in position, there will be a dedicated toilet for those with a disability.
- Re-siting of Ruby Bay recycling centre
FCCT needs to visit Ruby Bay and assess the situation. The recycling centre has been located at Ruby Bay for the last 20 years.
Keith suggested that one of the parking bays by the golf course on Chapel Green or Links Road could be fenced off for placement of bins. However, it was felt that these roads can be busy during peak tourist season and children on bikes sometimes travel the wrong way along Links Road.
Robbie advised that this proposal would most likely require planning permission.
Action: Robbie to follow this up again with Serco.
Robbie advised that the lifebelts had been put in place a number of years ago by the district council and it was proving difficult now to establish ownership. Robbie also questioned the requirement for them on the beach at their current locations.
Action: Robbie to take the matter up with Fife Council
Beach Group update October 2020
In 2020 the Beach Group focussed on the issues listed below, however a number of the projects have been put on hold because of the pandemic.:
Various options for seaweed removal were being considered by the Beach Group. SIt was agreed however that whilst there was a need for immediate action with regard to seaweed removal, there were a number of other projects involving Elie and Earlsferry beach and dunes e.g. the creation of a local traffic management system, creation of disability access paths, toilet block opening times and safety issues and excess sand at the Toft, which also required to be addressed.
Excess sand at the Toft
Various options were being considered for the long-term management of this issue, including closure of the path from the beach to the Toft. However, it became necessary in June 2020 to take immediate action as sand was causing the harbour road to become impassable for cars and bicycles. Local Councillor Linda Holt contacted the Roads and Transportation Services and asked for the sand to be removed. They responded that they were currently in Phase 2 of the Scottish Governments framework for returning to normal working practices which permits a soft start to some activities, when operatives can operate under safe systems of work and socially distance on site. Before any of these works commence they do have to ensure their method of work is safe to protect operatives on site as well as the public, therefore some work will take a little longer than usual to plan and execute. They do have to prioritise jobs relating to public safety utilising the resources they currently have. Their operatives were currently working on a rota basis and they were not at full capacity as yet.
However with assistance from a local farmer, the sand was removed. The local inspector did agree to check both areas again and arrange for the removal in the future of any sand causing an immediate safety issue.
Sea Defences (Admiralty Lane, Elie Ruby Bay)
It was noted that the sea defences at Elie Ruby Bay have been compromised and if not sorted now will get worse.
The group was advised that a sign in place explains that some of the defences are under private ownership and are maintained. However, the area to the East needs attention it was agreed that FCCT would contact Fife Council over this.
Ruby Bay Carpark
Discussion centred round the challenges and opportunities that the culture of staycations has created. A Motorhome Pilot Scheme was agreed. The Pilot was due to start at the end of April 2020 but due to the current pandemic which has put up challenges, realistically it may be towards the end of this year or towards the start of next year before work begins. The proposal was to put in place dedicated metered motorhome bays (Parking Charge Notice scheme- PCN) for overnight stays. Following discussion, it was proposed that the number of bays be increased from 5 to 8. It is anticipated that the PCN on its own won’t solve the traffic management issues in and around the locality, but it will help to ensure safer parking for Ruby Bay Carpark particularly in the evening times. The group agreed that there will have to be new infrastructures like toilets and Elsan tanks put in place to support this initiative. As discussed through consultation a funding stream may be made available from the PCN scheme to be reinvested into the Elie Ruby Bay Infrastructure.
During the pandemic, Robbie Blyth (FCCT) liaised with the campers and motorhomes at Ruby Bay on several occasions and invited them to leave, however they returned in ever increasing numbers which resulted in problems with the toilets and the risk of pollution.
Signage was ordered and put up on the site in July 2020. The hope was it would persuade some to not camp and either seek a proper campsite or indeed go home. It is hoped that things will get better in relation to the motorhomes once the Parking Charge Notice Scheme is introduced.
Thanks were given to Alex Nairn for arranging for the recent overflow car park at Elie Ruby Bay.This was a temporary measure put in place, but it has highlighted the serious challenges in relation to greater users’ numbers and the need for a traffic management plan.
Funding may possibly be available from the Fife Outdoor Tourism Infrastructure fund. Possible areas of work would include:
- Upgrade of facilities
- Provision of new facilities
- Environmental mitigation
- Improvements for wildlife
- Sustainable tourism
£1.1m funding would be available in support of suitable projects. The funding is specifically for rural areas. The aim is to tackle issues of increased visitor pressure which is having a negative impact on the visitor or community experience. Consideration was being given to seeking funding to tackle issues at Elie Harbour and Ruby Bay where there has been the delay in implementation of the permanent campervan arrangements (Parking Charge Notice scheme) due to the original lockdown.
Public Toilet Update
It was acknowledged the toilets need to have extended opening days to reflect service users’ numbers. Therefore, for the rest of this year FCCT have made a commitment to open Elie Harbour and Elie Ruby Bay as follows: September Noon – 18:00 & November / October Noon – 16:00 (7 days a week). It was noted that the Ship Inn picks up the overflow of people when the toilets are shut, and this puts pressure on the restaurant and pub.
It was noted that the whole of North East Fife and particularly the East Neuk has experienced lots of wild camping issues due to staycations and the lack of campsites.
Signage would be required advising against camping in recreational area such as picnic sites and carparks, however that the signage would require to be different for an area out-with the curtilage of the picnic / carpark area in keeping with the spirit of the Scottish Outdoors Access Code. Signage is the responsibility of Fife Council. However, the Community Engagement Team (Rangers) within FCCT is to be approached to see what can be done for next season in relation to text and public liaison.
An article in the local publication the Elie Herald newspaper, notifying the public what they can and cannot do in relation to wild camping and access etc. would also be helpful.