MP calls for Westfield review

An artist's impression of how the new Westfield site could look
An artist's impression of how the new Westfield site could look

MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, Luke Graham, has written to the Minister for Local Government and Housing to ask the Scottish Government to call in the planning decision by Fife Council to build the Westfield Open Cast Coal Site.

Planning approval in principle has been given for a regeneration plan to transform the site in Fife, creating up to 2500 jobs in the process.

It would include land-based and floating solar farms, an energy capture centre, recycling plant, industrial units and scope for large glasshouses for use in agricultural farming all on the Westfield site, close to Kinglassie, once the biggest open cast mine in Europe.

Mr Graham said though he supports the redevelopment of the site, he has concerns.

“I stand firmly behind Portmoak community council, the local Perth & Kinross councillors and Liz Smith MSP in calling for the administration in Edinburgh to review this planning decision,” he said.

“Development is good, but not if farmers and communities across Kinross-shire are bearing all the costs and environmental impact.”

Local ward councillor, Callum Purves, who has worked with his fellow ward councillors to campaign for this decision to be called in, added: “This development will undoubtedly bring benefits to Fife with the regeneration of the site and the creation of new jobs but the implications of the decision to route all heavy-goods vehicles to and from the site through Kinross-shire will be disastrous.

“Portmoak Community Council and Perth & Kinross Council made sensible suggestions for mitigation measures to reduce the impact of this development on local residents, businesses and tourists but Fife Council failed to include most of them in their conditions of approval.

“Scottish ministers need to review these conditions and require the developer to fund appropriate mitigation measures.’

The local objections to the scheme include the Westfield site running contrary to the previous planning decision by making insufficient use of the rail line which exists, leading to an increase in HGVs going along the B9097.

It is also expected to have a significant environmental impact with Loch Leven and its surrounding environment a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as well as a National Nature Reserve, a Special Landscape Area with significant environmental protections upon it.

“We don’t want to hold Fife back,” Mr Graham said, “I hope the minister can help to mediate to make the development work for both communities.”