MSP lends support to local seal project

Gillian Martin MSP with Project Manager Ron Macdonald at Newburgh beach
Gillian Martin MSP with Project Manager Ron Macdonald at Newburgh beach

Efforts are being made to fund upgraded facilities used by visitors at a North-East seal haul-out to make viewing more accessible.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has met with the project manager for the Head Up for Seals Project to discuss the improvements to the carpark and boardwalk at the Ythan estuary near Newburgh.

More than 2,000 seals regularly use the site attracting hundreds of visitors to the area. In May 2017, it was made an offence to harass the animals, after the Scottish Government introduced legal protection for the marine creatures.

Local conservationists are concerned over the seals being disturbed.

And in January this year, Ms Martin met with staff at Forvie National Nature Reserve to discuss how best to protect the seals. One option was to make clear to people that the best views of the seals are to be had from the south side of the estuary

Now Ms Martin wants to help support any efforts to fund improvements to facilities on the Newburgh side of the Ythan estuary to encourage visitors to view the seals from the village rather than risk disturbing them.

Plans include a first stage which would improve the carpark for visitors while a second phase would look at improving existing footpaths leading to the estuary including the creation of an all-abilities path and viewing platform.

It is hoped the improved footpath would allow those with disabilities to access the beach more easily.

Commenting, Gillian said: “The work being carried out as part of the Heads Up for Seals’ Project could help transform access to the beach.

“The seals attract many visitors and it is a site of natural beauty. The carpark as it exists now needs upgrading to make it more user friendly and allow better access for people who wish to use it.”