Christmas Tree Dune Update from Cllr Shona McIntosh

As there has been some seasonal interest on what to do with your Christmas trees, I wanted to give an update in relation to Fisherrow Sands. 

Two years ago I took part in a community initiative to dig discarded trees into the beach at Fisherrow in the hope this would help protect the coast from erosion. This followed similar projects at St Andrews and Ayr.   

I have since learned that as the beach at Fisherrow is a protected area, any work done there is legally required to first obtain a license from NatureScot. 

Last summer I was asked by a constituent whether East Lothian Council could take over the organisation of this activity for future years. I agreed it would be good to explore how the council and community might work together to harness the public interest in protecting the beach. Council officers reached out to NatureScot and to Fife Council for advice; my email from last August is copied in full below. 

NatureScot would not grant us a licence for this activity because their judgement is that the Christmas tree intervention would not be beneficial to Fisherrow, and they had concerns that digging into the dunes risks causing unintentional damage. However, they highlighted the current study on erosion by Dynamic Coast (due to come to Council with the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme design later this month) and suggested that once this was complete we could work together on a site-specific community engagement plan to help restore and protect the dunes. 

In the meantime, individuals with Christmas trees to dispose of are, of course, free to weigh up this information and decide for themselves what to do. 

I look forward to exploring the future opportunities for community involvement in beach restoration activities, guided by the evidence from both the erosion experts at Dynamic Coast and the ecosystem experts at NatureScot.