Fife Council secures £3.1m to regenerate abandoned opencast coal site

Fife CouncilFife Council has secured over £3.1 million from the Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance PLC to restore the former Blair House opencast coal site near Oakley, having settled its lengthy legal battle in the Court of Session with the company, out of court.

The site had been left in a derelict state when the Scottish Coal Company went into liquidation in April 2013, prompting fears around the future use and safety of the site.

Fife Council has recovered the full amount of the restoration bond which will now allow plans to restore the site to progress.

Councillor Alice McGarry, convener of the South West Fife area committee & planning committee, 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 Limited), 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.

SMRT chairman, 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 been to deliver a pragmatic approach to restoration. We’re looking forward to working with all of 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.”

Councillor Altany Craik, convener, economy, tourism, strategic planning & transportation committee, said: “I am delighted at this news and look forward to the restoration of the Blair House site beginning as soon as possible. Fife Council’s Legal and Planning teams have worked tirelessly over a number of years to secure this victory, which means that all three of Fife’s opencast coal sites that were abandoned when the market for coal collapsed now have restoration budgets.”

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