Belfast Telegraph

Antrim gets safety net to stop falling rocks

Engineers are to climb hundreds of feet up Garron Point in a bid to protect motorists on the Antrim Coast Road from falling rocks.

The Coast Road will close at the headland north of Carnlough village for eight weeks from Monday as safety netting is installed on the precipitous cliffs.

The road is one of the most spectacular in the UK — but also one of the most hazardous because of the danger of rock falls. In recent years there have been rock falls near Carnlough, landslides at Glenarm and sea defences washed away at Ballygally.

Last year it emerged that the blasting techniques used by the so-called Men of the Glynnes, who built the road more than 160 years ago, are responsible for the erosion problems.

In February Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy revealed that the crude blasting techniques used when the Antrim Coast Road was constructed in 1842 were combining with natural weathering processes to fracture limestones and basalts along the clifftops of the iconic route, causing “ravelling and rock falls”.

The Roads Service has now brought in specialists to assess solutions for several areas prone to rock falls on the Coast Road, including Garron Point.

Divisional roads manager Deidre Mackle said: “The rock face at Garron Point extends to some 130 metres in height close to St Killian's College and is renowned for its white limestone layer overlaid by the black basalt common on this coastline.

“Some of the problems in maintaining this road find their roots in the crude blasting techniques used at the time of construction coupled with natural weathering which has fractured the limestone and basalts resulting in ravelling and rock falls.

“In light of a number of rock falls and subsequent road closures last winter, Roads Service engaged rock engineers to remove any loose rock from the rock face at the location of Garron Point.

“The proposed work involves a specialist rock netting contractor installing retention netting to a basalt outcrop some 90 metres above the main A2 Coast Road. This high access work has been planned for completion prior to the winter season to minimise risk to the installation teams and safeguard this location from further weathering and erosion.”

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