Page last updated at 10:08 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Landslide villagers set to leave

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Pennan is a beauty spot under threat from landslides

Residents of the Aberdeenshire village of Pennan could have to leave their homes while a section of cliff threatening to collapse is repaired.

Engineers have been assessing the 25m crack above the village's only access road, after heavy rain.

The residents would have to leave by Friday before the road is fully closed to allow the work.

The village, made famous by the classic film Local Hero, suffered severe mudslides in 2007.

The road has been closed to the general public, and the repair work from this weekend could last a week.

The alarm was raised on Tuesday night.

If you can't handle the consequences you don't live in a place like this
Helen Fletcher
Pennan resident

Aberdeenshire Council's chief executive Colin Mackenzie said the local authority had people in the village and the safety of residents was paramount.

He added: "It's the road itself that's the issue here.

"It's not where the last landslip appeared in Pennan so the houses themselves are not particularly at risk but obviously if the road is blocked and if this landslip happened it would block the road.

"We want to make sure we have taken every step we can to advise the villagers and we've had our staff there advising them of the possible threat."

Pennan clean-up operation [Pic: Fiona Walker]
Hundreds of tonnes of mud and rock swept onto Pennan in 2007

Helen Fletcher told BBC Scotland: "I've had the house for 12 years but it was a holiday home until I moved here two years ago.

"It was really serious last time and my house got a bit damaged but it's not nothing like on that scale now. We have been reassured by the council.

"There was a landslide about two weeks ago on that road but it was passable."

Ms Fletcher added: "It's a clay-based rock so it's very unstable. They have been shoring it up but hadn't tackled that part of it.

"It's the nature of being here. You have to take the risk.

"If you can't handle the consequences you don't live in a place like this."

Steve Cowperthwaite and his wife Dawn Howard have been staying in the village to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Ms Howard's birthday.

"We were in the pub when we heard about the landslide threat," Mr Cowperthwaite said.

Map showing Pennan, Aberdeenshire

"We're a bit worried about being trapped here so we miss our flight. We will probably just stay put and see what the situation is like later."

Ms Howard added: "It was ok until the police came to the door. That scared me a bit more. But it's a beautiful place so I don't mind staying here for a while."

In 2007, severe landslides brought hundreds of tonnes of mud and rock into the village, leading to the evacuation of all the residents.

Pennan - and the village's red phone box - became recognised after Bill Forsyth's 1983 film Local Hero, starring Burt Lancaster.

In 2005, the Bafta-winning film topped a film critics' poll for the best use of locations in Britain.

The film saw the representatives of a US petro-chemical giant, who were seeking to build a refinery in a Scottish coastal village, come to find the gentler rhythms of the local life practically irresistible.



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SEE ALSO
Hero's return as Pennan Inn opens
15 Oct 09 |  North East/N Isles
Pennan landslide funds deferred
27 Jan 09 |  North East/N Isles
Pennan flooding anger a year on
06 Aug 08 |  North East/N Isles
Pennan's cliff plans get backing
09 Oct 07 |  North East/N Isles
Mudslide village opens up access
22 Aug 07 |  North East/N Isles
Salmond makes pledge to villagers
13 Aug 07 |  North East/N Isles
Clean-up begins in flood village
07 Aug 07 |  North East/N Isles
In pictures: Pennan flooding
06 Aug 07 |  In Pictures

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