Hebridean Coastline
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South Ford Hydrodynamics Study
During the 11th January 2005 to 12th January 2005 a very severe storm hit the west coast of the Western Isles, damaging houses, roads and other infrastructure, ultimately leading to loss of life. Many parts of the naturally eroding coastline were subject to considerable erosion losses and flooding during this single event.

Gualan, which acts as a barrier island to the west of South Ford, suffered significant erosion during the storm. The island has a large effect on the hydrodynamic regime within the South Ford.  There is concern from residents that should Gualan island be allowed to erode, the wave climate in South Ford would become more severe and that people living close to the shores of the South Ford will be at an increasing risk of harm from the effects of future storms.

During 2006 CnES made applications for funding to the Scottish Government under the Coast Protection Act 1949 for six coastal protection schemes. One of these schemes, for the Gualan Island to the west of the South Ford, was not approved as it did not meet cost/benefit criteria specified by the Scottish Government. This scheme involved dune re-nourishment using sand sourced from the South Ford together with subsequent dune stabilisation and management. However, it was recognised that further study is required in order to develop an understanding of coastal change in the South Ford area.

In October 2007, Michael Russell, then Minister for the Environment, announced funding from the Scottish Government for a hydrodynamic study of the South Ford area. An exploratory meeting to discuss how the project could be structured was held in mid November 2007 between representatives of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Aberdeen Institute for Coastal Science and Management staff at Aberdeen University. With the interests of knowledge transfer and transparency in mind, it was felt that the study should be managed by a Joint Client Group consisting of CnES, AICSM, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and representation from the affected community.

The main purpose of the study was to establish the effects of coastal processes on erosion and their contribution to past and future flooding in the South Ford area. The study also determines what the risks of erosion and flooding are to people, land and property on the coast. It investigated what effect possible interventions would have on managing the risk and identified options which could be implemented to minimise the risk.  

For more information click on What's Happening Now?