We’re here to stay STEPAL pledges

STEPAL held its first Open Meeting at the Cosmos Centre St.Andrews January 24.
STEPAL held its first Open Meeting at the Cosmos Centre St.Andrews January 24.

STEPAL, St Andrews’ newest environmental charity, is here to stay one of its directors has pledged.

STEPAL director Mary Jack said that the organisation was not a “one trick pony”.

“We are here to stay, we will be around for a while.”

Her comments came in the wake of STEPAL’s first open meeting giving members of the public the opportunity to see what the charity has been doing.

Now STEPAL, the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited, plans to hold open meetings every couple of months – the next is already planned for March 6.

Ms Jack said that as a charity the organisation couldn’t “sit and do nothing”.

She continued: “We are here to stay – we are not a one trick pony, we will be around for a while.

“We have to work for the community and that is what we plan to do.

“We will be having open meetings every couple of months to keep the community informed about what we are doing, what we feel is important and to get the community to tell us what they think we should be doing.”

As well as informing St Andreans of proposed developments in and around the town, STEPAL also wants to hear the public’s concerns.

“We feel it is important to get the community to tell us what they think we should be doing,” Ms Jack reiterated

STEPAL was formed by former staff of Madras College to fight plans to develop the new school at Pipeland, but has since broadened its remit and achieved charitable status late last year.

It has also now been officially recognised by HMRC, allowing it to offer donors the opportunity to Gift Aid their contributions.

The organisation is currently awaiting the outcome of its legal challenge to Fife Council’s plans for the Pipeland development – a move which has delayed the opening of the new school by years.

According Ms Jack around 70 members of the public attended the drop-in session where STEPAL members staffed stalls to answer questions and note concerns raised by visitors. The session also featured an animated display.

“We were very pleased with the turnout – we had people we had not seen before which was very encouraging,” Ms Jack said.

She explained: “The object was to inform the general public about several of the proposed developments and planning applications in and around St. Andrews which give rise to local concerns – not only the Pipeland Farm application for Madras College’s relocation made by Fife Council, which has inevitably received the greatest publicity to date.”

She added other areas of concern highlighted at the event – green belt, FifePlan, TayPlan, Feddinch, West Sands, New Park Priory Gardens, the Southern Hillside, and the Scottish Government Planning Review.

To date, STEPAL has already objected to or commented on some of these issues.

Penny Uprichard was one of those who attended the meeting and she welcomed STEPAL’s activities: “Given the increasing difficulties of coping with applications on the web, I feel that anyone who is prepared to be interested in planning is more than welcome,” she said.

“I certainly don’t think they are trying to take over the role of the community council.” Ms Uprichard added.