Crusaders for wildlife at Dunfermline’s super-campus site are fighting to prevent more tree felling.
Members of Calais Woods Conservation Group believe woodland around the site earmarked for Dunfermline Learning Campus provides a valuable nature habitat.
They have launched a bid to secure Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) to prevent the loss of more trees.
“Trees are known to provide habitat for field birds, raptors, foxes, deer, hare, red squirrels and badgers,” says campaigner Robin Irwin.
His group secured funding for an independent ecology study.
Nobody wants to stop the great work that is going on for schooling.”
Robin says the findings indicate the Dunfermline woodland provides a “rich” environment for wildlife.
“We now have ecology reports to back that up, not just the ones done by the developers.”
They have told Fife Council: “In the interests of amenity, it is expedient for the local authority to make a tree protection order.”
Site to be home to ambitious learning campus
Tree planting took place at the site in the 1990s. At the time it was home to a building which should have been a Hyundai microchip factory.
But an economic crisis in the Far East scuppered all hopes of new jobs.
Motorola bought the site in 2000 for an eye-watering £1.3 billion.
The bulldozers eventually moved in to demolish the white elephant without the production of a single component.
The site will now be home to a £180 million super-campus.
This will incorporate Fife College’s Dunfermline Campus, St Columba’s RC High School and Woodmill High School.
It has a target opening date of summer 2024.
But Robin claims the voices of local people have not been heard in the development of the site.
And the group is now protesting over the decision to axe a bigger area of woodland to make way for the campus.
There are four areas of trees they want to save.
Initially, the development was to result in the loss of two acres of woodland.
Agents for Fife Council’s education department, who are the applicants, now say they need to cut down a further acre.
This is to make way for an access road.
Council contradicting their own policies, say campaigners
Robin says local people feel developers are not respecting the green belt.
“On one hand there’s policy that says this must be protected for the benefit of everyone.
“In the end, the reality on the ground is that they’re making decisions day-by-day which aren’t respecting the law.”
Meanwhile, Robin says the group does not oppose the campus in principle.
“Nobody wants to stop the great work that is going on for schooling.
“It needs to be sensible, considerate and in the interests of the community first and foremost.”
Plans to plant local species to make up for loss of trees
Commercial property firm Jones Lang LaSalle are acting on behalf of Fife Council’s education service.
Associate Fraser Blackwood told the council there would be no “significant detrimental impact in the local area”.
And he said the work to build Dunfermline Learning Campus could actually benefit wildlife.
Council property services senior manager Alan Paul said there were plans to plant “local species” to replace felled trees.
“We fully recognise the importance of these woods and the place they hold in the hearts of the local community.
“And we are doing our utmost to minimise any impact from the nearby building works.
“We have met with local stakeholders to discuss the proposals and will continue to be available to any groups raising concerns over any part of the works.”
He added that the campus buildings would be of the “highest standards of sustainability, with a view to being carbon neutral”.