Residents in Moray are in danger of being “squeezed out of existence” as extreme weather has destroyed up to 10 metres of coastline, according to a local councillor.

Draeyk van der Horn of the Scottish Greens says that recent storms have caused a significant loss of land in a highland community that has faced several challenges in a short period of time.

With protected areas under threat and wildlife said to be dying at an alarming rate, multiple incidences of high winds and battering rain show the effects of climate change on Scotland’s rural areas.

“It’s one thing after another in this area, one crisis after another. The recent weather has taken away massive amounts of our coastline. It’s incredibly concerning,” said Councillor van der Horn.

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“In Findhorn, there’s been an enormous loss of wildlife that has been hugely damaging to the community. There’s been birds lying dead on the beach from bird flu. Visitors might not notice it, but when you live here, it can be really upsetting.

“There’s only so many times we can keep pushing paths back after this loss of land. Eventually, you start to hit private land and that’s where the real problem starts. That’s when we’re in danger of being squashed out of existence.”

Two weeks ago, Storm Babet caused chaos in the north east of Scotland with widespread power outages and road closures. Many people have had to be rehoused after their homes were devastated, while two people died. 

The Herald:

Draeyk van der Horn: “I’ve been speaking to locals and they say they’ve never seen anything like this"

In recent days, Moray has endured a combination of weather factors that has led to the considerable erosion of the coastline.

Councillor van der Horn said: “First, there was a full moon which brings the sea level up. On top of this, the sea temperature was far above its usual, which obviously led to the water volume increasing and causing real problems.

“Dunes up and down the coastline have been swept away, with some losing around about 10 metres. In some areas it might be as little as two metres, but it really is a big loss to the area. Part of the coastal path has been completely taken away. This is one of the core paths with Moray, and it connects to other paths all along the north east.

“This is the difference between urban and rural areas when it comes to climate change. Those living in urban areas will experience it in a different way. For people in rural areas, they don’t hear it, they don’t respond, so incidents like this really hit hard.”

It is understood that Moray Council are looking into the parts of the path that have been destroyed and have immediate plans to put up signage to safeguard locals from the potential hazards.

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Councillor van der Horn has stressed the potential hazards that the loss of the coastline poses to both the land and the people in Moray, saying this recent erosion is unprecedented in the area.

He added: “When I was down here taking the pictures, I spotted a jogger ahead and I tried to shout to him but he couldn’t hear me with his earphones in. As he took a step onto the path, an entire part of the coastline just fell away.

“If that had gone the wrong way, he was facing an eight-metre drop off the cliff face. If I hadn’t been there, he could have been lying prone on the beach with nobody there to help him.

“I’ve been speaking to locals and they say they’ve never seen anything like this. One guy has lived here for 40 years and this is the worst it’s ever been. I’d like to say it was a one off, but I think it’s clear events like this are something we’re going to have to contend with more frequently because of climate change.”