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St Andrews Green Belt Proposal
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MP's welcome for St Andrews Green Belt plan

The Courier, 30 September 2000

North East Fife MP Menzies Campbell has welcomed news that Fife Council is now proposing green belt status for areas of St Andrews.

Mr Campbell said yesterday that, after years of campaigning, it was delightful to "at long last see an outbreak of common sense in the planning service of Fife Council."

He said, "The campaign for a green belt to protect the landscape setting of St Andrews is overwhelming.

"The surprise, and to some extent the frustration, is that it has taken so long for that to be recognised. Green belts do not prevent development but they require proposals to be measured against significant criteria which give additional protection.

"It is just a pity that St Andrews had not enjoyed that protection in recent times when major proposals have been before the council, so as to ensure that development was subject to rigorous assessment."

Fife Council’s decision to include a possible St Andrews green belt in Fife’s structure plan was also welcomed yesterday by the chairman of the St Andrews Green Belt Forum, Professor Terence Lee. He said the U-turn was "absolutely amazing news" which, he hoped, would help protect the unique character and landscape setting of the town.

But with the proposals still to be discussed by councillors and the plan ultimately to be approved by the Scottish Executive, he did not want to say too much at this stage until he had read all the fine print.

He commented, "It really does chalk one up for public consultation and almost makes the Kingask planning row seem worthwhile. I am sure it will also have implications for the Scooniehill development."

Just last week the St Andrews Green Belt Forum had promised to press First Minister Donald Dewar for a public inquiry if the version of the Fife Structure Plan put before councillors in November did not include a green belt.

Campaigners said the consultation exercise for the draft structure plan had shown there to be "huge support" for a green belt in the town and the group said this wave of public opinion was too great for a democratically elected council to ignore.

Fife Council sparked controversy earlier in the year when it published the draft Fife Structure Plan and claimed there was no justification for a green belt anywhere in Fife.

But on Thursday the local authority answered its critics when it said it would now be proposing green belt status for areas of St Andrews and Dunfermline in response to concerns voiced by residents and others.

The over-all strategy of the structure plan in "Shaping a More Sustainable Fife" has not changed, but the council revealed that over 500 responses had been received to the draft plan earlier this year and these comments had now been taken into account by the planners and the council’s administration.

While the council fervently stresses its commitment to listening to public opinion on a regular basis, it is understood that the Scottish Executive also exerted pressure on the council to ensure that it took note of what had become very vocal and determined public opinion.

The proposed green belts are for areas to the north (The Links) and the south (The Grange) of St Andrews as well as to the south and south-west of Dunfermline.

A report on the proposals will go before Fife Council’s strategic development committee in Glenrothes next Wednesday.

The plan will then be presented for final approval to the council’s three area committees during late October/early November and to the strategic development committee on November 27.

Thereafter the plan will be submitted to the Scottish Executive for their approval.

The finalised plan, together with a copy of background papers, will be available for public inspection in the main council offices and libraries from October 19.

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