Councillor Alex Rowley has warned that better planning and more investment are needed to ensure the land art project on the St Ninians open cast site next to Kelty is to succeed and deliver a sustainable visitor attraction for decades to come.
Mr Rowley spoke after he visited the site and following on from a recent meeting of the project steering group at which Scottish Coal planning consultants set out their vision for the area in a presentation. He said: “I am very impressed with the early stage development of the site and the vision of Professor Charles Jencks who is overseeing the land art design and implementation and is a world renounced authority on land art architecture.”
The Kelty councillor however expressed his disappointment at a presentation from Scottish Coal consultants on a master plan of the area. He said: “All they seemed to want to promote was a housing development in the middle of the site between Kingseat and Kelty. Even more alarming, the consultant gave examples from similar large scale projects from down south that he said had failed and become ‘white elephants’ because of a lack of sustainable investment and claimed the way to stop this happening here was to allow a new housing settlement to be built between Kelty and Kingseat.”
He continued: “To be brutally frank, my concern is that Scottish Coal are more interested in the future of their shareholders pockets than the future sustainability of this site. I have consistently expressed concern that if there is no long term plan for the management of this site and a clear investment plan over many years then we could easily find ourselves with a fenced off site and warning signs of no entry for the dangers inside. When this project came to planning I moved continuation time and time again asking for answers as I had the same concerns as the planners from Scottish Coal but I never saw a new housing settlement as the answer to the resources question. We were given assurances that the steering group would take all these points on board as the project was developed and a master plan was brought forward.”
Mr Rowley said that he has now written to Professor Jencks and would be meeting with him along with officials from Scottish Coal. He has also written to Fife Council planners asking for a meeting to go through the detail of the Land Art planning approval.
He concluded; “The potential of this project in terms of the future local economy is massive and could be a major boon for Kelty, Kingseat and the wider west Fife area but there are many important questions that need to be answered and for a Scottish Coal planner to suggest that the answer is a new housing settlement is simply not on.
Mr Rowley said he would also be speaking to local groups and organisations and asking them to join him in his attempts to secure a long term future for the site.