St Andrews Citizen letters March 8, 2013

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Vote assured for the second-rate

Sir, – There are many aspects of the ongoing educational consultation on the acceptability of the Pipeland site for the new Madras that are extraordinary.

The frustrations of previous years means that, at least as far as parents are concerned, a substantial vote 
in favour of the proposal is 
virtually assured, despite the 
proposed school being educationally second-rate in the terms that Fife Council itself has spelt out 
in previous years.

It was notable at the public 
meeting at Kilrymont that the officials appeared unable to say anything positive in favour of Pipeland to the parents present, relying instead on the very dubious argument that there is an absence of alternatives.

It is therefore equally amazing that Fife Council can attempt, for 
tactical reasons, to exclude 
discussion of alternative sites by running the educational 
consultation ahead of the planning one, when its only real 
justification for putting forward this site is based on planning arguments — albeit ones that appear to 
be erroneous.

As there are strong planning 
arguments against the Pipeland site, parents may well find they have merely been led up the garden path for a third time.

Only parents with longer memories are likely to recall that Fife Council told them time and again in 2009 that it would be proximity to the university that would make the difference between a bog standard school and a distinguished 
one.

Now the same officials are backing what is about the furthest site in 
the town from university 
buildings.

What was then a central plank of the project is now almost totally forgotten, and no-one looks willing to put their money where their mouth was.

However oversold, the idea was not without merit.

Former senior pupils from South Street certainly benefitted from easy lunchtime access to the university library.

The new school will also be moving backwards in terms of sports 
provision.

Not only will there be the loss of the swimming pool at Kilrymont, but questions also need to be asked about the quality and quantity of pitch provision.

We are told that the provision at the Pipeland site will compare 
favourably with that at the 
Kilrymont site.

The main component at present, though, comes from the superbly-drained level pitches at Station Park, which are now being viewed as jam on top.

Whatever protestations are made to the contrary, it seems highly likely that a future cash-strapped Fife Council will see them as exactly that, and sell them off for 
development, leaving the school with a significantly-reduced

area.

Also amazing at the Kilrymont public meeting was the growing list of practical problems with the Pipeland site that were candidly admitted to be currently unsolved.

Some of these intermeshed with the list of safety concerns about the Pipeland site.

Parents could usefully give some thought to the safety of the road crossing to Morrisons at lunchtimes (the proposed measures to keep pupils onsite did not sound 
effective); the need to divert the public footpath across the site; the proximity to the Pipeland water works; and the relative proximity to the mobile phone and TETRA 
masts further along the hill.

We will not rehearse here the details of the powerful non-educational arguments against the Pipeland proposal.

Suffice it to say that short-sighted educational policies, favouring large schools and long-distance 
bussing with a huge carbon 
footprint, are very bad news for the planet, and thus for our children’s children.

From a more local perspective, the southern hillside is the key element of the new green belt for which the town battled for almost 20 years.

Development at Pipeland would kill the green belt in its infancy. – Yours, etc.,

THE ROYAL BURGH OF ST 
ANDREWS COMMUNITY 
COUNCIL PLANNING 
COMMITTEE

(Mr Howard Greenwell [Chair], and members of the committee: Dr Ian Goudie, Ms Izzy Corbin, Mr Patrick Marks and Ms Penny Uprichard).

Apples, oranges and bananas

Sir, – With regard to a new site for Madras College, Fife Council may indeed have explored the possibility of the North Haugh Pond location “in some detail” as Councillor 
Bryan Poole asserts (Your Views, March 1).

I did not suggest otherwise in my letter of February 22 despite his 
comment.

He refers to the advice from 
“a highly regarded group of 
professionals” of significantly increased costs of between £6m and £12m, and of significant risks (unspecified) relating to developing that site.

But it is noteworthy that he does not explain why the Council selected a south of England firm for this advice rather than one of our many local 
expert firms, and that he accepts that it did not even make a site 
visit before arriving at this 
guesstimate.

That is hardly what one normally understands by “professional” in the surveying or construction industries!

The Council’s briefing paper of 
October 2, 2012 (‘Madras College Site Options’) gives the North Haugh cost as an estimated £51m, including £10m unspecified 
“abnormal costs”, as Ron Caird said (Your Views, March 1).

But it also includes £5m for the 
distributor road, with the 
qualification that the responsibility for its cost is “debatable”.

So the implication is that the base construction cost is an estimated £36m, which is well below the other sites’ estimates of about £40m or, like Pipeland, in excess of £40m.

Moreover, this estimate for Pipeland includes no allowance whatsoever for its “abnormal” costs that are 
already known, due to building on a sloping site, levelling it for the sports fields, and eradicating permanently its drainage problems which have caused flooding in several recent years.

Did the Council not ask its “group of professionals” to guesstimate these costs, and if not why not?

Nor does it include the site purchase cost, nor are any of the points 
addressed which Ron Caird detailed, on the relative South Street/
Kilrymont/North Haugh site 
values and benefits accruing 
therefrom.

What is the point of a 
consultation based on a flawed 
prospectus with inadequate 
information and comparing apples with oranges and bananas? And why do our councillors seem to accept this approach?

Surely we are entitled to the full facts, presented in a manner 
permitting a fair comparison and 
a considered judgement to be 
made.

There is another fundamental

issue.

Understandably, most parents in St Andrews probably wish Pipelands to go ahead, and soon, despite the loss of green belt and other disadvantages.

But their children comprise only around 500 or one-third of Madras pupils, with most of the rest (over 900) living anywhere from Guardbridge to the Tay Bridge area and dependent on school buses.

One would expect the Council to give these pupils a higher priority weighting in their secondary school location.

Further, the Council’s Local Plan for St Andrews envisages 1000 new houses, plus more in north-east Fife, implying an increase, over a decade or two, of several hundred in the secondary school population, and mostly within the town.

Taking at least a 75-year view ahead, as we should, the case is surely strengthened for a new Madras in St Andrews and also a new Taybridgehead school (rejected by the 
Council), and is the kind of 
long-term capital infrastructure investment which should not be compromised by any need for 
savings in our current public 
expenditure. – Yours, etc,

JOHN BIRKETT

12 Horseleys Park

St. Andrews

For generations

still to come

Sir, – We can sympathise with Luke Rendell’s impatience at the time it is taking to deliver a new Madras (Citizen, February 15 and March 1). The St Andrews Preservation Trust, representing a wider constituency, is however also entitled to express its view and play its part in the decision-making process.

Our purpose is to ensure that 
generations to come can continue to enjoy the historic character and 
landscape setting of St Andrews which, as we all can see, is under constant threat from many quarters – from property developers and sometimes (as in this case) from Fife Council too.

A new school on the North Haugh site will not only be sound, visually and environmentally, it will also, we feel sure, appeal greatly to pupils, parents, staff and the many other users of the school, most of 
whom live well to the north of 
the town. – Yours, etc.,

GRAHAM WYND

Chairman, St Andrews

Preservation Trust

Plea to pro-pond supporters

Sir, – These pages have carried 
many letters in recent weeks 
supporting the use of the pond site for the new Madras College, in 
particular emphasising how the 
flood risk can be overcome.

A more fundamental problem that’s mentioned less often is that the land is still owned by the university.

We’ve seen several references to ‘on-going discussions’ and ‘positive exchanges’ regarding sale of the site to the Council, but talk is cheap.

Can we suggest that the supporters of the pond site publish a letter of 
confirmation in this newspaper next week?

If their discussions are as positive as is made out, the university should have no problem in providing a 
missive of support, perhaps 
indicating how close it is to concluding the sale.

If, on the other hand, this support cannot be evidenced, can we 
suggest the pond site supporters 
end their campaign, and get 
behind the Pipeland option 
which the council has stated is 
attainable. – Yours, etc.,

WENDY DONALD,

EMILY THOMSON

Winram Place

St Andrews

BRIAN WALLACE

Lawmill Gardens

St Andrews

Pipeland ‘no’

disappointment

Sir, – I observed the St Andrews Community Council meeting on Monday, March 4, where they were to vote yes or no to a new 
Madras school on the Pipeland 
site.

I walked out of the meeting feeling extremely disappointed and 
unsupported as a parent of two young children, as the council voted ‘no’ to the Pipeland location.

There were various comments from community council members before the vote, such as should there even be a school in St Andrews, as over 60% of pupils travel from outwith the town. Leuchars or Guardbridge were cited as perhaps better 
locations.

It was also suggested Fife Council should try negotiating again with the university.

Such comments make me feel the community council is not thinking of our children’s education, that it does not even pretend to empathise with the kids who are currently being educated in sub-standard conditions, and that it does not think there is any urgency to resolve the schooling issue. – Yours, etc.,

EMMA WARD

3 Tulloch Place

St Andrews

A council, ‘but not of the community’

Sir, – On Monday March 4, I was a 
curious spectator at the St Andrews Community Council meeting, 
primarily to listen to the discussion concerning the Pipeland site for Madras.

I left the meeting extremely 
disappointed and frustrated with the council, and not just because of its frankly farcical decision to reject Pipeland as a supported 
site.

I had assumed the community council would be a representative cross-section of the true community of St Andrews. However what I observed did not reflect at all the town that I have lived in and come to love over the past 10 years.

It was disappointing to see St Andrews represented by a wholly unrepresentative cross-section of the town – namely the elderly, the closed-minded and those that epitomise the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) attitude.

I was also concerned to see the chair of the community council actively pursuing his own agenda and making his opinions clear during the debate (anti-Pipeland). As I understand it, a chair is supposed to remain impartial unless a casting vote is required. Further investigation amongst my peers and colleagues shows that no-one is clear on or 
understands how someone gets nominated or elected on to the 
community council, and its website offered no clue when I investigated.

As far as I am concerned, the community council does not represent the community of St Andrews that I am a part of and am happy to be involved with.

I feel that it is important that other residents of St Andrews question the community council and its motives to ensure it accurately represents the thriving and 
inclusive community I understand St Andrews to have.

I saw no evidence of this at the meeting. – Yours, etc.,

ANTHONY BRENNAN

9 Priory Gardens

St Andrews

Nuclear good,

renewables bad

Sir, – Jill Saunderson’s repeat of the well-known Greens mantra 
”Renewables good, Nuclear bad” does little to address the danger to mankind of man-made, carbon-induced climate change.

If Scotland is serious about carbon reduction, then fossil fuels must 
be left in the ground and all 
heating and transport must be electrical.

This would increase our maximum electricity demand to about 40 Gigawatts, which could be met by 20 modern nuclear plants or 80,000 two-megawatt wind turbines 
(assuming 25% efficiency), backed up with fossil fuels.

Sorry! Since these are not allowed, truly massive pumped hydro storage schemes would have to be constructed involving billions of tons of high-carbon concrete, damming just about every glen in Scotland, for when the wind didn’t blow.

Thus we face a future of either nuclear power, destroying Scotland with renewables, or ignoring climate change and maybe dooming future generations.

Reassuringly, in the 25 years since Chernobyl, the predicted huge increase in excess cancer deaths has not been detected.

And at Japan’s Fukushima power plant, the scene of a more-recent nuclear accident, it is also predicted there will be few, if any, radiation deaths.

Furthermore, the next generation 
of integral fast-breeder reactors could burn existing high-level waste as fuel, leaving only medium-life actinides, and avoiding the need for uranium mining. – Yours, etc.,
STEPHEN GRIEVE

60 Nethergate

Crail

No Byre, but still sold on Carousel

Sir, – In these austere economic times, citizens of all communities 
up and down the land are 
concentrating single-mindedly on income and employment, each for him or herself.

In these circumstances, it was all the more heartening to be at a 
performance of Carousel last week and to applaud, not just the play, but the teamwork and commitment that was very clearly on 
display.

And this in the face of the further challenge for the cast of having to squeeze on to the Town Hall stage rather than that of the more 
spacious Byre theatre.

The Byre had been the intended venue during weeks and hours of rehearsal and preparation and planning.

All in all, though,it was a joyous 
occasion and an excellent 
show.

And perhaps, more importantly 
and impressively, a spectacular example of community spirit and professionalism, in spite of the toughness and uncertainty 
of everyday working life.

– Yours, etc.,

J L LE MAITRE

32 Lade Braes

St. Andrews

Is public health

on the radar?

Sir, – At the north-east Fife area planning committee held on 
February 21 the councillors were asked to give an opinion on the Lingo wind farm application.

Their decision to reject the 
proposed development was based on planning policy.

The officer presenting the case made mention of the fact that there was an MOD objection regarding the ATC radar at Leuchars.

She added that, due to a Reporter’s decision made on January 21, 2013, regarding radar mitigation, this was no longer a reason for refusal due to possible mitigation.

The decision she was referring to is Corse Hill in Angus, another West Coast Energy proposal.

In 2007, the European target for energy from renewable sources was increased to 20%, pressurising the UK to increase its production in a short timescale.

A Memorandum of Under- 
standing on Aviation 
Radar and Wind turbines 
(Mitigation Issues) was agreed to and signed by interested parties, 
including the MOD and Infratil Airports.

An Aviation Management Board was set up and, at the BWEA 31 Conference in October, 2009, Ed Milliband, the then secretary to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, announced that the UK would fund a £5.15m research and development project which could release up to 5.5 GW of wind farms being held up in the planning system.

Two million pounds was to come from The Crown Estate and £1.55m from DECC.

A further £1.6m was to come from the wind farm companies through The Aviation Investment Fund Company, which received 
contributions from 14 wind firms, one of which was West Coast Energy.

A Holographic radar solution has since been accepted as mitigation by Infratil Airports Europe for both Glasgow Prestwick and Kent International.

Radar, whether active, passive or holographic is not a totally benign technology.

What guarantees do the public have that neither they nor their living environment will be damaged by these trials, as there appears to 
be no requirement for an 
environmental impact assessment to be made?

Technology demonstrations 
are taking place this summer with the first mitigation solutions 
expected to be implemented in 2014/15.

That so much money, time and energy is being spent on trying to resolve the ATC radar issue is very concerning on two fronts.

Neither the defence of the 
nation nor public health should
be put at risk for commercial 
gain and political targets.

– Yours, etc.,

MARION LANG

Westermost

Coaltown of Callange

Ceres