Hopes to save a local ‘natural wonder’

Local physiotherapist Debbie Roberts is running a half-marathon to raise awareness of a threat to one of the natural wonders of Angus.

A planning application has been submitted to the local authority and it is feared that the future of the ‘Slug of Auchrannie’ will be in doubt.

Plans suggest that a concrete weir be built across the Slug and the adjacent gorge which will reduce the current waterfall to little more than a trickle.

A large tunnel will be excavated to place a four metre diameter pipe which will divert water from the waterfall through a pipe several hundred metres long downstream to produce electricity.

Debbie said: “I first walked to the Slug of Auchrannie in the Den of Airlie 19 years ago and I was so taken by the beauty and the energy of this large dramatic waterfall as the dappled light shone through the trees on the edge of this gorge. How wonderful to have this beautiful spot right here in Angus.

“Now that is under threat and may be lost forever. It is a big project that will take over a year to complete. The construction works will cause the destruction of many large mature trees and kill rare plant life such as river lichen jelly which is internationally protected and located only in a few places in the world – east Angus being a stronghold.”

Debbie continued: “The Den of Airlie is a national Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A big unknown in this project is that if the tunnelling is unsuccessful midway through the project, it’s possible that the gorge will end up being excavated like a large quarry involving the destruction of even more trees and rare plants.”

The drop of the Slug of Auchrannie waterfall, located two kilometres downstream of Reekie Linn, is similarly as large and dramatic but less visited than Reekie Linn because there is no car park or picnic area. However, walkers regularly go hiking there along a public access path to witness this rare, untouched spectacle of nature in Angus.

Debbie added: “It is sad to think that this could be lost. I am generally in favour of green energy projects in the right places, but for all the damage caused to the den, the amount of green energy produced is very small – equivalent to 2MW or a single large wind turbine.”

To raise awareness only without asking for any donations, Debbie plans to run a 13.1 mile, half-marathon route that will follow the public road close to the River Isla, passing waterfalls along the way. The route will begin in the Den of Airlie passing Airlie Castle, crossing Melgam waterfalls at the Bridgend of Lintrathen, past Peel Farm, Reekie Linn, along River Isla and finish in Kilry.

Debbie said: “I haven’t run this distance for a few years and I know it will be not be easy since I’m 53, but I am committed that people should know about this proposed hydro-scheme.”

To view application visit www.angus.gov.uk and search for planning application number 12/00874/EIAL. Debbie has set up an e-petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-slug