Ambitious plan to create an urban woodland in Fife town

Kevin O'Kane, Fife Coucnil's greenspaces officer says the woodland proposal will not cos the public a penny.
Kevin O'Kane, Fife Coucnil's greenspaces officer says the woodland proposal will not cos the public a penny.

An ambitious proposal to extend a popular urban woodland, creating new public areas and pathways, has been revealed by Fife Council.

The plan to transform up to 10 hectares of vacant land close to Rabbit Braes woods in Kirkcaldy, with the planting of a new woodland area, was unveiled at a public consultation this week, and could begin as soon as December 2018.

A map detailing the outline of the area proposed for the woodland site.

A map detailing the outline of the area proposed for the woodland site.

The former agricultural land between Bennochy Road and Linton Lane, currently owned by Fife Council, has lain dormant for over a decade, but a proposal could see as much as 70 per cent of it replanted with a range of tree, shrub and other plant species.

And if the project comes to fruition the new woodland will come without a dent being put into the Council’s budget, as Kevin O’Kane, the Fife authority’s greenspaces officer, explained to the Press.

He said: “The cost of the planting is estimated to be in the region of £60,000 and the Forestry Commission has already agreed to meet that cost of planting, fencing and creating new paths, as part of their drive to see more urban areas planted in this way.

“The commission would also take on the responsiblility of the maintenance and upkeep of the area for the first five years before it reverts back to the council.

“The work would be done over two phases, first with the planting and then with the creation of the paths.

“Despite the council having 1000 hectares of similar land at 70 sites across the Kingdom, very little is urban so we have a fantastic and unique chance to create something which is not only worthwhile and sustainable, but also comes with a whole host of environmental benefits.

“If we left the land unatended then it wouldbecome overgrown in time anyway.

“The woodland would also increase the amount of wild native Scottish plants and animals, complement the council’s commitments on climate change and even help create a number of employmenttraining oportunities.”

However the plans have met opposition from a number of Bennochy Road residents who have voiced concernsover the loss of amenity, a possible increase in anti-social behaviour and the threat to wildlife.

“Not only is there no detail on just what is to be planted and how that will affect the views across the town and the Forth, there are concerns over the long-term maintenance and the woods becoming a magnet of anti social behaviour,” said Frances Hall, who has lived adjacent to the land for eight years.

“The council could cut the pathways and leave the fields for people to enjoy as they are, but there’s a feeling among residents that this is the council forcing this through and it already being a done deal.”

Following the public meeting Mr O’Kane admits there is still some work to do to win the public over .

“There’s more work to be done on the proposal before bringing it back for further public discussion,” he said.

With planning permission not required the proposal would have to come before the town’s area committee for final approval before work could commence.