Dalgety Bay residents say “seeing will be believing” after they were told radiation at the shore will be cleaned up next year.
It is now more than three decades since radioactive contamination, which is a legacy of the area’s military past, was discovered at the headland near Dalgety Bay Sailing Club.
After years of wrangling, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) eventually took responsibility for the pollution and work to remove it was previously expected to go ahead in 2018 and 2019.
But last year, the project was delayed again, with the MoD stating it could not secure the necessary licence in time to allow the work to go ahead without disturbing wintering birds.
With the long-awaited clean up expected to go ahead in April next year, a spokesperson for Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Council welcomed the news that something was finally being done.
He said: “Seeing will be believing, but if the works do indeed start, it will be the culmination of significant community campaigning going back many years and we should pay tribute to the efforts of all those who got us to this point, from previous community councillors, residents and the sailing club.
“This work has been a long time coming and has been the subject of numerous delays.”
Stephen Ritchie from the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation recently updated local councillors on the progress being made.
Ahead of work starting in April, an area at the sailing club has been set aside to be used as a compound, with cabins expected to be moved to the site in February.
Meanwhile, larger sailing craft have been moved to the Port Edgar Marina at South Queensferry.
Mr Ritchie said it was unlikely that much material would be removed from site and sand cleaned of low level radiation would be put back.
Local SNP councillor David Barratt previously described the MoD’s lack of urgency over the project as “hugely disappointing”.
He said: “Given the 16-week application turnaround for the required permit and the fact this was only submitted in November, I asked at what point the MoD knew these works would not be happening in 2020.
“We were told that this only became clear in July.
“This begs the question why the project team were unaware of the need to have the permit application in as soon as the contractor was appointed in February.
“Nevertheless, I am pleased that progress is again promised in 2021 and I hope it goes better than the 2019 and 2020 start dates.”
Radioactive particles were first discovered at the headland near Dalgety Bay Sailing Club in 1990.
The particles were found to contain radium-226 which was in paint used to make aircraft dials luminous.
Studies of the coastline suggest incinerated radioactive waste was dumped prior to 1959, when the nearby airbase HMS Merlin was decommissioned.
After years of refusing to accept liability, the MoD was named as the polluter by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) more than two decades after the radiation was found.