Protecting our sand dunes – Part 2

Monday saw the beginning of repairs to a number of “blowouts” in the sand dune line along the West Sands beach.

The dunes were badly damaged back in March 2010 by high tides and strong North Easterly gales and a substantial amount of sand was lost. While parts of the dune has recovered reasonably well in the intervening years, a few areas in particular have remained vulnerable to further erosion.

Following discussions with Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT), Scottish National Heritage (SNH), Fife Council and St Andrews Links over the past few years it was agreed that FCCT would apply to Marine Scotland for a license to extract sand from the beach to carry out these repairs. FCCT were granted the license back in October and the work is now being carried out.

Links staff begin to fill the largest blowout.

A sacrificial bund left behind the fence line is still to be “shaped up”.

The area of the dunes and the beach was surveyed prior to the work beginning to record the current height of sand. This will be repeated following the work and again in a years’ time to determine how successful the project has been and to show there have been no ill effects.

measuring height
Dunes being surveyed using GPS to measure height.

Some of the fence work will be renewed over the coming weeks. This is in place to prevent the dunes suffering from erosion by foot traffic and allow them to naturally replenish and grow.

In total we moved 900 tonnes of sand over the 3 days and repaired the 5 biggest blowouts so it’s been a really successful project. Some of the bunds we created are “sacrificial” meaning some sand could be lost to high spring tides but this is deliberately designed to protect the dunes behind them.

FCCT have arranged a day for volunteers to come and transplant marram grass from other areas of the dunes on the 20th February to help stabilise the new sand deposits. Anyone in the St Andrews area who is interested in helping can contact Ranald Strachan by emailing

Words by Gordon Moir, Director of Greenkeeping

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