THE RECENT decision by Angus Council to upgrade the footpath between Easthaven and Elliot has raised issues of protecting the nature reserve at Elliot links.
The area between the railway line and the high water mark from the Elliot Burn, to the site of the former Dowrie works, is a protected area containing a wide range of rare plants as well as providing a habitat for a number of relatively rare birds.
This designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) contains dunes, heathland and wetland areas each of which supports populations of rare and unusual plants as well as many commoner species.
The need for greater protection of the SSSI was raised last week by Councillor Alex King after he witnessed two motorcyclists on off-road trials-type machines drive along the crest of the dunes from Dowrie to the Elliot Burn, then back across the heathland to the level crossing at the golf course.
Councillor King stopped the motorcyclists and asked them why they were driving off-road in the nature reserve where motorcycles are banned. He was taken aback when they told him that they did not know it was a nature reserve and they were not aware that motorcycles were banned from the links at Elliot.
To their credit they quickly accepted that they should not have been in that area and immediately left by the quickest route after giving sincere assurances that they would not return in the future.
This incident, however, prompted Councillor King to look at the existing signage around the SSSI area and he found only one sign relating to the exclusion of motorcycles which had been turned so as to be unreadable by anyone crossing the level crossing or using the metalled path.
Councillor King has asked Angus Council’s director of neighbourhood services to ensure that appropriate signage is erected at all points of entry into the SSSI emphasising the need to protect the area and reinforcing the message that motorcycles, quad bikes and 4x4 vehicles are not welcome.
He added that while the proposed path will provide a cycle way for pedal cycles, that should not be taken as an invitation for cyclists to stray from the metalled path
Councillor King concluded: “There is a myriad of footpaths across much of the dunes and heath where walkers are free to enjoy the sights and smells of the wild flowers and to watch the many birds which live amongst the reeds and grasses.
“This is an area of which Arbroath should be proud and which needs a certain level of protection to ensure that the fragile habitat is maintained for future generations and the diversity of flora and fauna is sustained and not threatened by inappropriate human activities.”
A spokesperson for Angus Council commented: “Angus Council will liaise with Scottish Natural Heritage, which designates the Sites of Special Scientific Interest, to ensure suitable signage is erected in the area.”