Coastal village residents must continue to live in fear

Kingston was cut off in December.

Residents in a Moray seaside community must live in fear for their homes for the foreseeable future as councillors threw out plans to protect their coastline.

Home owners in Kingston’s Beach Road say that they are now left in an impossible situation where they are in constant fear of flooding, but can’t sell up and move out.

Despite pressure from all three local councillors representing the area and convincing arguments put forward by local councillor Douglas Ross at a meeting of the economic development and infrastructure this week, a £1.66m plan to erect a barrier protecting the homes was rejected.

Councillor Ross was the only local member represented on the committee, but he received support from Elgin South SNP councillor Graham Leadbitter.

Following a promise made last year to residents, Moray Council undertook a £25,000 consultation study into options available for protecting homes in Kingston that have been subjected to encroachment from the sea on a number of occasions, the most recent being in December.

That report provided several options ranging in cost from £1.1m to £4m – however, all were being opposed by the Council’s consultancy manager, Dave Gowans, who has always supported a ‘wait and see’ policy over flood risks in the area.

Tory councillor Douglas Ross nevertheless put forward a proposal for an option costing £1.6m that would see a rock armour installation on the bank at the rear of a lagoon between the shingle beach and Beach Road.

His motion was supported by Councillor Leadbitter – but ultimately defeated by seven votes to six in the face of opposition led by administration group independent councillors Fiona Murdoch and Stewart Cree.

Following the decision local residents were left to face further uncertainty for some time to come, with Beach Road homeowner Kirsty Hart saying: “We have now got a property we cannot sell.

“Kingston is a fantastic place to live, but the threat of the beach makes you think twice.  A previous £36,000 project to repair potholes on Cadgers and Burnside Road has not solved the problem of flooding there – it was just like sticking a plaster on it.”

A disappointed Councillor Leadbitter said: “I put across a strong case for the community as a number of people have been in touch and felt this was a really important milestone for Kingston.

“It is almost more disappointing to think if one member voted the other way it would have been different.”

During the debate the leader of Moray Council, Allan Wright, questioned where the cash would be found when consideration was given to the current budget constraints facing the local authority.