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Alan Grant reports
"Gales and high tides have claimed as much as three metres of land"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 15:14 GMT
Trust bunkered over erosion threat
Beach scene
Only a narrow strip is left between the beach and the golf course
An environmental protection order is preventing action to stop some of the world's most famous golf holes being washed into the sea.

High tides and strong winds are threatening parts of the Jubilee Course at St Andrews.

The St Andrews Links Management Trust is appealing to the council for permission to put solid defences in place.

Revetments
The trust wants to build "revetments"
Fife Council planners say, however, that a part of the area is a site of special scientific interest and their hands are tied until they can see an environmental impact assessment.

The rare grasses that grow there are protected, preventing the trust from putting in place bags of stones surrounded by wire mesh, known as revetments.

An independent survey has been commissioned by the trust into how to protect the coastline from the sea, but there are fears that time is running out.

Attempts to build soft barricades have failed and strong westerly gales and high tides over the last six weeks have claimed as much as three metres of land.

Situation 'urgent'

Trust spokesman Peter Mason said: "The situation has become very urgent indeed. We're now within 10 yards of the eighth fairway.

"If this isn't addressed really very rapidly indeed, we will have a serious problem on our hands.

"We'll finish off with a golf course with 17 holes rather than 18."

erosion
The sea has caused considerable damage
The trust was warned last month that the force of the sea was unstoppable.

Speaking at a golf course management conference in the town, coastal erosion expert Professor John Pethick said that St Andrews course officials would have to consider moving holes.

Professor Pethick said officials changes may be needed to layouts, including the 11th green and 12th tee on the Old Course, which will host this year's Open in the summer.

Professor Pethick said that the Eden estuary was getting wider as sea levels rose, undercutting the defences which had been placed there over the past three decades.

"It might be heretical, but we will just have to move inland as the sea drives the dunes inland," he said.

"The migration of holes on the courses seems to be the only way forward."

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12 Jan 00 | Scotland
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