17 November 2009

Threat of another landslide at Pennan, the site of the film "Local Hero"

Posted by Dave Petley

The film Local Hero was released in 1983, having been filmed in the village of Pennan, near Aberdeen in NE Scotland. In my view it is one of the best films of the 1980’s – understated, beautiful and genuinely funny, with a very strong environmental message. The village at Pennan has become something of an attraction as a result but, located so far from the beaten track, it has never been a real mecca for visitors. The attraction of the village to the film crew is clear from this photograph (from here):

However, look carefully at the picture above and you will probably see the problem that the village faces. Unfortunately the slope behind the village is unstable – in 2007 the village suffered a mudslide that flowed into homes, the pub and the village hall, causing considerable damage. The pub remained closed until last month, when a new landlord took over. Finally things started to look up for the village again.

Thus, it was with great sadness tonight that I read that the residents of the village have been told to prepare for another potential evacuation as another tension crack has opened up on the cliffs above the village. BBC News reports that this crack is 25 m long. Fortunately, this time the potential landslide does not appear to threaten the houses directly, but the road is threatened. The Google Earth image below shows just how critical this road is to the village:

The UK has been suffering heavy rain over the last few days, which is of course the likely cause of this problem. Tomorrow is forecast to be drier in this area, but further rain is forecast for Thursday and, in particular, Friday. It will be a nervous few days for the people of Pennan. I wish them well.