Car bank removal

Thirty one old cars, tonnes of concrete, boulders and railway sleepers have been removed from the banks of the Dee. With its corrugated iron facing, this 60m structure was damaging the river and was an eyesore on the otherwise unspoiled landscape, clearly visible from the Linn of Dee road. The ‘car bank’ was built to repair the embankments between Mar Lodge Estate and Braemar that were built in the 1700s to protect deer calving grounds from flooding. In 1937 a flood broke through the embankment and this breach remained open for 50 years. In 1984, the gap was filled with the cars, as well as spruce trees, railway sleepers, fencing wire, large quantities of concrete, and boulders. The structure was faced with corrugated iron so that ice would be less likely to become pinned against it.

The time had come to remove the waste and return the site to a more natural condition. The structure was breaking down and there was a risk that waste would be released into the river. The erosion around the structure was worsening, damaging river habitats by releasing soil into the clean gravels that are home to many species, including salmon and freshwater pearl mussel. The new bank, rebuilt using natural materials, is lower and has a gently sloping face, which will alllow the area to flood more often. This will benefit natural floodplain habitats, which need to be wetted regularly.

On the day that the works finished high flows nearly overtopped the embankment and we look forward to seeing this happen more often in future. Many of our partners worked together to remove the waste: Aberdeenshire Council, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the James Hutton Institute, the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, River and Fishery Trusts Scotland, RSPB and Mar Lodge Estate have all played key roles. The waste was removed as part of the EU LIFE Pearls in Peril project, which is working on rivers across the UK to restore freshwater pearl mussel populations. If you remember the vehicles going up to the site, have photographs, or even recognise your car, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.