Gobbins visitor safety ‘priority’ for MEA council

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The council has reassured the public that their health and safety is ‘never at risk’ on the Gobbins cliff path tourist attraction.

The path has been closed since the end of December, with Mid and East Antrim Council facing a £50,000 repair bill after the slippage.

In a statement issued this week, the council explained how it carries out safety checks on a daily basis.

“The Gobbins undertakes regular reviews of the area and a geotechnical engineer’s report carried out indicated that there was a substantial

land slip occurring, affecting the lower end of the main concrete access pathway and the first section of the main gravel pathway,” it said.

“It was therefore estimated that the area of earth that had moved weighs around 3,000 tonnes.”

The council has indicated, however, that not all the slippage landed on the cliff path.

The statement continued:“It is advised that land slips, such as this, are common in the North Antrim Coast area because of the geology.

“They are caused when a sloping area of soil becomes highly saturated by water ingress and loses its internal cohesions and/or adherence to

the underlying rock which allows it to slide or slump.”

The council statement added that the slippage was caused by “extremely high rainfall” from Storms Abigail and Frank .

“The health and safety of visitors and staff at The Gobbins is and remains council’s priority,” it continued.

“Health and safety inspections of The Gobbins cliff path are carried out every morning prior to it being opened to the public, ensuring health and safety is never at risk.”

When asked if part of the cliff face is unstable, the council responded: “The Gobbins cliff face is unstable in that rock fragments may fall off the cliff face and land slip may occur from time to time: A fact we identified early on and have a plan in place to manage. “

The council added: “The health and safety risk on the path arising from the instability of the cliff face is managed by implementing a visitor

management plan that includes identified areas where visitors may be at risk, ongoing risk assessment and reevaluation, regular geological survey and assessment, daily inspections and record keeping of evidence of rock falls.”

The council says the cliff will undergo “regular scaling to remove loose rock as recommended by the geological assessment”.

It confirmed that a geological survey of the cliff face and surrounding areas was carried out prior to the site’s opening, as was an investigation to determine soil properties and rock depth on the cliff top and path access route .

The council told the Times: “The geological survey detected the cliff face instability and identified management measures that are being implemented by the council as described above.”

Meanwhile, we understand that chief executive Anne Donaghy provided elected members with a briefing on the temporary Gobbins closure during a confidential session at a committee meeting on Monday.