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Access Issue - Kingsbarns Golf Links
Ramblers' Association concerns regarding safe access
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The Ramblers' Association, a charitable body working for walkers, formally objected to the application to build the golf course as originally proposed. They were involved in discussions with the developers prior to planning approval, and they managed to negotiate several worthwhile revisions to the proposal. They do, however, maintain their objection to the amended application, as can be seen in the following letter to the East Area Planning Manager dated 31 October 1997 (extracted from the Report made available to our elected members when they considered this application). The main unresolved issues have been emphasised for easy identification.


08-97-0029D FORM GOLF COURSE AND ACCESS ROAD (AMENDED SCHEME) AT KINGSBARNS

Thank you for your letter of 17 October. We have the following comments.

1. Following the Development Plan Departure Hearing we met with representatives of Granite Bay (Scotland) Inc on 10 October to discuss their latest proposals. These appear to be similar to those circulated with your letter of 17 October.

2. We are pleased to note that the developers recognise the significance of the Fife Coastal Path and have now endeavoured to incorporate it within the golf course plan. Furthermore we welcome the intention to develop a web of circular walks based on the car park at the end of Sea Road.

3. We appreciate that the developers have endeavoured to address the safety issues raised at the Departure Hearing and in earlier correspondence. The realignment of several holes and the construction of protective dune ridges are important modifications which go some way towards meeting these concerns.

4. Despite these modifications we believe there is still cause for considerable concern at various locations in the amended plans. These concerns are mainly in relation to the proximity of the path to various tees and the first dropping zone and are as follows :

Hole 3: The path is parallel to and close to the tee shot; there must be some doubt as to whether the protective sand ridge would be adequate.

Hole 12: There appears to be inadequate space for the tee shot between the alignment of the coast path and the coastal footpath alternative loop. The second shot also goes close to the coastal path.

Hole 16: We recognise that the modified plans bring the tees (except for the competition tee) onto the landward side of the coastal path and therefore avoid hitting across the path. Nevertheless the tee shot is close to the path and, despite the protective dune ridge, the path may be exposed to a significant number of errant shots.

Hole 17: There may be some risk to the path from the tee shot, at least in the early part of the drive, despite the protective dune ridge.

5. We agree with the proposed rerouting of the coastal path to the landward side of the 15th hole. Nevertheless, the use of Cambo Ness for this hole raises some difficult issues which do not yet appear to have been addressed. For example the tee shot to this hole must cross over the beach and foreshore, over which there is a historical right of access (see a summary of your rights here). What would be the position if members of the public continued to use this area when play was in progress? There is no doubt that they would be in considerable danger of being struck by golf balls. There must be some doubt as to whether this hole could continue to be used if members of the public decided to exercise their right to use this part of the beach and foreshore, especially if they remained within the line of play of the 15th hole. Our understanding of the legal position is that golfers would have to give way to walkers in this situation and play could not continue.

6. We feel it is essential that the Council completely satisfies itself that the layout of those holes close to the coastal path is such that there is minimum danger to walkers on the path. It must be remembered that, in the original planning consent (ref 08-95-0062D), it was clearly stated that the layout had to be adjusted "to avoid any danger being caused to users of the coastal route from stray golf balls". Despite the use of the protective dune ridges we doubt whether the present layout meets this condition.

7. We accept that there are existing golf courses where there may be some risk to walkers following footpaths close to the line of play. This is a different situation however to that in which the Council now finds itself. To approve a layout in which there was some doubt about its safety in relation to the coastal path might expose the Council to considerable critisism in the future, and possibly legal action, if accidents occurred to walkers.

8. It is unclear to what extent the developers have addressed the issue of global warming and rising sea levels, along with the relationship to coastal erosion, that was raised at the Departure Hearing. As this already appears to be causing some serious difficulties at other existing golf locations on the east coast of Scotland it needs further examination at Kingsbarns. The likely consequence of such erosion is that the coastal path, and perhaps parts of the fairways will have to be repositioned further inland in the future. Building coastal defence works to prevent incursions of the sea, bearing in mind that parts of the path have already slid into the sea at Kingsbarns, is likely to be prohibitively expensive and perhaps impractical.

9. Our overall conclusion is that, despite the good intentions of the developers and some innovative alterations to the layout, there is simply not enough room between the coastal path and the line of the old sea cliff to accommodate the number of holes desired by the developers. We consider that these problems might be overcome if parts of holes 4 and 5, and holes 13 and 14 in particular, were moved further inland onto areas currently marked as 'turf and landscape nurseries'.

10. Finally we note that the developers expressed some surprise at the meeting on 10 October that Council officials had not discussed the details of the proposed layout and its relationship to the coastal path with the Ramblers' Association at a much earlier stage. Having seen our first objection (29 May 1995) the developers claimed that, after speaking to officials about our concerns, they were assured that Council officials would take up the matter with the RA. This would have been in line with the Guidance Notes for Public Footpaths and Bridleways on New Golf Courses published by the English Golf Union in 1992 and mentioned at the Departure Hearing (there is no Scottish equivalent). So far the RA has not been involved in any meetings called by the Council to discuss the on ground details of the proposed layout and its relationship to the coastal path.

11. In view of the outstanding matters which we believe are still unresolved with this planning application, as indicated above, the Ramblers' Association wishes to maintain its objection to the application.


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