GCU leads £540,000 research project to protect historic fishing village

Thu, 17 May 2018 07:59:00 BST

The Aberdeenshire fishing village that inspired the artist Joan Eardley's paintings will be protected from coastal erosion, flooding and landslides as part of a research project led by Glasgow Caledonian University.

Catterline has been selected as one of seven “open-air labs” across Europe under an EU-funded conservation study.

A team of engineers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) will devise eco-friendly ways to protect the historic village from erosion, flooding and rainfall-induced landslides over the next four years after securing £540,000 from the EU’s Horizon 2020 fund.

Researchers plan to work with the community to design “nature-based solutions” to safeguard half of the one-kilometre bay, which is deemed to be “failing”. The erosion threatens a number of properties in the village and the access road to the harbour.

The project will see trees, reclaimed timber, debris and biodegradable material used to shore up the bay’s defences, with civil engineers, planners and stakeholder engagement specialists working alongside villagers on long-term solutions.

Professor Rohinton Emmanuel, principal investigator of the project for Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “It’s a very scenic area and we want to protect its natural beauty.

“We are looking to do something different with natural solutions that produce the same goals as conventional engineering.

“We will come up with a strategy with the people there. It will be key to get buy-in from all of the stakeholders in Catterline, so everyone can work together on this.

“It will involve engineering interventions that mimic nature. The solutions will be co-designed and co-deployed with the community.

“It’s civil engineering but it’s not grey, it’s not concrete, it’s using nature in a different way.”

Initial discussions will take place with residents, landowners, absentee landlords, farmers, and community groups, in July, when the project formally starts.

Pieter voor de Poorte, chair of the Catterline Braes Action Group, said: "The coastal village of Catterline has a long-standing relationship with GCU.

"We look forward to continuing this relationship as part of this Horizon2020 project, and we hope it will bring interesting advancements to devise natural solutions to landslides and coastal erosion."