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Kirkcaldy Sea Wall

Kirkcaldy is the largest town in Fife with a population of almost 60,000 and has an enviable location on the waterfront of the Firth of Forth on Scotland’s North Sea coast. However, local people had gradually turned their backs on the coastline as a 4-lane trunk road created a significant barrier to waterfront activity.


Kirkcaldy had also long suffered the adverse effects of flooding of the esplanade road and seafront properties.  Fife Council recognised the detrimental effect, that the vulnerability to flooding and poor aesthetic quality of the esplanade, was having on the quality of life of local residents and the potential development of the town centre. 

What we did

We designed and constructed improved, raised sea defences and a new promenade. The new wall is made up of 617 precast concrete wall units that we installed along 1.8km of coastline. We improved beach access and installed five DDA compliant access ramps and four new flights of steps to improve the functionality of the area. We installed a decorative finish to the landward side of the sea wall, including new pedestrian shelters, street lighting and furniture. We also refurbished a historic plaque from the original wall, adding a cultural heritage feature to the area.

After consulting with local stakeholders, we raised the level of newly resurfaced promenade by 0.25m so that sea views could be maintained over the new, higher walls. The promenade now forms part of the National Cycle Route.

A rock revetment sitting in front of the sea wall provides another line of defence to dissipate wave energy and reduce the chances of overtopping. We built this by placing a 1m thick underlayer of 200-400kg rock followed by a 2m thick layer of 2-4t armour stone. We placed a total of 83,000 tonnes of rock material sourced from local quarries in total. 

Project successes

Our work has left a positive legacy of a more attractive, distinctive and vibrant seafront for people to visit, enjoy and do business. It provides a resilient, sustainable coastal defence which substantially reduces the risk of flooding for the next 50 years, unlocking the development potential of the waterfront. The project was recognised with the Integrated Transport Project of the Year accolade at the Scottish Transport Awards.