Kenly Farm radium warning branded a ‘publicity stunt’

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ST Andrews University has branded as an ‘‘ill-thought out and potentially highly-damaging publicity stunt” a warning that the proposed site of a wind farm it wishes to create near Boarhills may be contaminated by radioactive debris.

The Kenly Landscape Protection Group has written to Fife Council planners seeking confirmation on the issue of possible land contamination of the land at Kenly Farm.

However, the university authorities have made it clear that there is no evidence to support such a claim.

There was an airfield at Dunino in the 1940s.

And the KLPG has voiced concern there may be possible radium and other sources of contamination in the area, similar to that found at the MOD airfield at Dalgety Bay.

The university’s application is for a six-turbine, 12.3 megawatt facility at the East Neuk farm, a few miles south of the town, and is a major component of its strategy to offset rising energy costs.

Niall Scott, director of corporate communications, told the Citizen: ”This is completely irresponsible and baseless scaremongering which could cause significant damage to the value of Kenly as a working farm, the value of neighbouring land and properties and the confidence of people who walk across the land.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that Kenly is contaminated with radium or any other radioactive substance, or that any significant debris remains under the soil from the period the land served as an airfield.

“Geo-technical work carried out at the site of each of the proposed turbines did not find any evidence of debris. We have also used ground-penetrating radar to survey the site. Similarly, the site has been farmed and repeatedly dug to drainage depth since the late 1950s. Not a shred of evidence of radioactivity or contamination or significant benign debris has ever been found.

“This group had already contacted the MOD which has confirmed it has no records which would indicate that there are any radioactive sources on this land. Despite this, however, these fears are being raised publicly by the KLPG. By implication, they are either claiming that the MOD is being dishonest or incompetent.

“In the past, the group has claimed that the proposed wind farm will have a negative effect on property values in local communities. The university firmly disputes this claim and has provided evidence to the contrary.

“A radiation scare, however, would have a severely negative effect on property values in Boarhills, Dunino and Kingsbarns.

“This is an ill-thought out and potentially highly-damaging publicity stunt which will dismay many people in these communities. The university is happy to offer a reassurance that such claims are groundless and we reserve the right to take further action as appropriate to protect the value of our land and property at Kenly.”

Dunino Airfield was brought into operation in 1941 for the RAF with grass runways. It was later handed over to the Royal Navy and it became HMS Jackdaw II, an offshoot of HMS Jackdaw near Crail. After 1944 it was no longer used for active service and became a storage site to store naval aircraft.

In the letter to Fife Council, John Goodwin of KLPG, said: ”Given that the area of construction for the turbines, roads and associated infrastructure proposed by the university is all within the boundaries of the former MOD site and the worrying lack of information that the MOD appear to hold, we would seek confirmation that Fife Council is completely satisfied that there are no potentially harmful military materials buried on the former airfield site.”

The MOD has been unable to identify any recorded information that indicates possible radium contamination in and around the site.