Fife's green space plan is for biodiversity - not cost saving, says council

Dunnikier Park, KirkcaldyDunnikier Park, Kirkcaldy
Dunnikier Park, Kirkcaldy
Environment chiefs have doubled down on their stance that changes to how Fife keeps its green spaces to improve biodiversity are not cost-saving measures.

The coronavirus pandemic saw the Kingdom's parks and grasslands left unmaintained for six weeks due to staff absences. Since then, some areas have been maintained while others have been left to grow wild.

Under plans to control what it terms an "almost unmanageable" backlog of grass-cutting as a result of Covid-19, Fife Council says it is now aiming to keep some of the rewilded grasses the way they are to promote biodiversity, in a move that will affect 10% of the region's open spaces.

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John Rodigan, senior manager in environment and building services with the council, described it as an "opportunity" - and insisted that if the public would have a say on which areas were maintained or rewilded.

"We couldn't cut the grass (during lockdown)," he told the Kirkcaldy Area Committee on Tuesday.

"We've taken this as an opportunity to develop a biodiversity agenda."

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A report presented to Fife's environment and protective services sub committee noted that local people will be able to "choose the land they want to repurpose" for biodiversity, and that any resources freed up as a result will be used to "raise standards of greenspace maintenance elsewhere within their locality."

Mr Rodigan noted his disappointment in "very cynical comments about this being a saving exercise through the back door".

He added: "Nobody should be getting upset. Ultimately this is about cutting grass. This is not a savings exercise.

"If communities in some areas don't want this at all that's fine too. It was absolutely promoted by the fact we had significant absence in the first few months of the virus and we couldn't cut the grass.

"There are no savings to be coming from this.”

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A detailed how approximately 10% of all of Fife's meadows could be rewilded - being maintained once a year.

Councillor Judy Hamilton (Labour, Kirkcaldy Central) noted that sacrifices had been made where necessary during lockdown to keep other, more essential services going.

"We were grateful our bins got emptied, given the pandemic," she said.

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