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posted 30 Oct 2017, 15:30 by Ian Holmes-Lewis   [ updated 2 Dec 2017, 15:01 ]

After a long battle, Fife Council has finally succeeded in securing over £3.1 million from the Royal Sun Alliance Insurance PLC to restore the former Blair House opencast site between Saline and Oakley. This follows a lengthy court battle in the Court of Session and an out of court settlement. The site had been left in a derelict state when the Scottish Coal Company went into liquidation in April 2013, prompting fears around the safety and future use of the site. The council has recovered the full amount of the restoration bond, which will now allow restoration plans to progress.

Cllr Alice McGarry, convener of the South West Fife Area and Planning committees said; “This is a great outcome for the environment, and for the residents of Oakley and surrounding areas. In the coming months, Fife Council will work with the current site owners, MRL (Mines Restoration Ltd), and the local community councils, to finalise the restoration plan and remove this unsightly and potentially dangerous site from the countryside”

The Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT) works with communities and other stakeholders involved in the opencast mine restoration process to address the issues left by unrestored opencast sites where coaling has ceased. The Trust's chair, Professor Russel Griggs OBE, said; “This is a very positive development for the future of Blair House and has the potential to have a significant impact on the site and the surrounding community. Our objective has always to deliver a pragmatic approach to restoration. We're looking forward to working with all the stakeholders involved to help facilitate a sustained programme of activity, which will incorporate significant land and environmental works. We are committed to working with Fife Council and the local community councils involved to finalise a restoration plan that makes best use of the available funds to improve the environment for local people”

Chair of Saline and Steelend Community Council, David Chisholm, welcomed the news and said “we have always advocated that local people should be actively involved in drawing up the restoration plans and welcome the commitment to this. The site currently impacts on the views from the Temple path that features in the new Heritage Trails leaflet produced by Saline and Steelend Heritage Society and restoration will have a dramatic impact on people's enjoyment of the trails. I am particularly pleased that our elected members have been rewarded for their determination to draw down the bond”