FRESH images of a new boundary wall to protect passers-by from debris falling off the slopes of Edinburgh Castle have been unveiled as Historic Scotland lodges formal plans for the £1 million project.
A three-metre high wall is set to be constructed along a 500ft stretch of Johnston Terrace to guard against loose rocks tumbling off the volcanic cliff face.
Formal objections are expected to be lodged by community watchdogs who say the plan is a “very expensive and ugly” solution.
Rock slides are rare but at least one incident occurred this summer – and there have been at least five other instances over the last couple of years.
Until recently, skilled climbers have scaled the rock face every two years to remove loose rubble but Historic Scotland – the body responsible for the Castle – claims the risk is “not removed, only reduced” using this method. Computerised trajectory modelling has now been used to determine the dimensions of the protective wall – shown here for the first time in detail as plans for the barrier are lodged with the council.
Barbara Cummins, director of heritage management at Historic Scotland, said the project would improve safety for everyone.
She said: “Since the installation of the temporary barrier on Johnston Terrace earlier this year we have already seen how vital this will be to enhancing public safety. Over the summer months a minor rockfall was successfully contained, reducing the threat to the public and the need for road closures during the peak tourist months.”
Ms Cummins said the project was an “important element of a long-term proactive strategy” to boost the safety of the rock. It is understood the project was not sparked in response to any new threat of rock falls.
She added: “Over the last few months we have sought the views of local community representatives and heritage bodies on the layout of the proposed barrier and its visual impact. This has informed our planning application and has allowed us to develop plans which will go some way to meeting the needs and expectations of residents and businesses as well as the thousands of visitors who use this route.”
But Julie Logan, chair of the Old Town Community Council, said the barrier was “visually inappropriate” and a planning objection would be lodged.
She said: “It’s very expensive and a really ugly solution to the problem. They say on occasions there are rock falls and someone might be injured. I know there have been a few occasions where vehicles have been damaged by rock falls but I don’t know if there has been any personal injuries.”
The Castle has suffered several rock falls, including one in 2006 where a huge boulder fell and smashed a taxi, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.