Anger after fence erected across beach as locals say their 'view is ruined'

The building of a 600 metre long fence around Sandhead beach has sparked debate among residents and visitors.

Fence erected across beach sparks anger among Sandhead village residents Wendy McQuillan via Supplied

The erection of a fence across a large stretch of a popular beach has sparked anger from residents and visitors of a Galloway village.

Around 600 metres of chestnut paling fencing has been put up around Sandhead Beach by community leaders in an attempt to “hold the line” against coastal erosion.

It comes after Stoneykirk Community Council decided to explore options to protect Sandhead’s coastline after the beach suffered flooding during Storm Barra in December 2021.

The aim of the new fence is to keep campervans off sensitive grass near the beach in an effort to allow it to re-wild, which would strength its resilience to floods and other damage.

Wendy McQuillan, a returning visitor to the town who lives nearby, said the view “has been ruined” and that the village has turned “hostile”.

The coastline with and without the fence. Wendy McQuillan via Supplied / © Google Maps 2024

She said: “Welcome to Sandhead, where you are only welcome if you stay behind the fence and especially not welcome with a campervan.

“What a hostile place it has turned into.

“So glad I don’t live there, as the view has been ruined. Pretty disgusted seeing this and what a waste of money.”

A plan emerged to re-wild the lowest-lying parts of the shore after the council held a two-year public consultation involving Solway Firth Partnership, Dumfries and Galloway Council, and NatureScot.

The council have since said signage was installed, door-to-door surveys were carried out and community council meetings were held – although these often were only attended by “10 or so people” from a population of about 500 residents.

A debate has since been sparked among residents within a Sandhead, Stoneykirk & Ardwell Facebook community group.

One unhappy resident said: “No one is going to want to sit behind that fence for any long periods of time in the summer. There has to be a better way.” While another added: “What an eyesore, whatever the excuse.”

However, a fellow resident countered: “Anyone who says it’s a eye sore or prevents them getting on to the beach, its as simple as this. If current weather and tides continue the part of land you are arguing about won’t be there much longer to fight about. Simple.”

Notice boards and signage was installed, door-to-door surveys carried out and community council meetings held, though the council says these often attracted only 10 or so people from the population of about 500 residents.

NatureScot said they advised the local council that it would be “beneficial” to protect the village of Sandhead.

A spokesperson said: “As part of their local consultation and engagement, the Community Council asked NatureScot for its view on the area which is now fenced, as parking over many years and a recent storm had reduced the vegetation and caused the once common adders, lizards and whinchats to disappear.

“We agreed it would be beneficial to protect and enhance the affected area, providing that the longstanding free public access was not greatly affected.

“The restoration of the habitat and in particular the increase in vegetation at the site will help combat the effects of climate change and storm impacts on this coast.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code