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‘No funds’ to clear up blight on Fife landscape as work stalls at derelict mining site

The Comrie Colliery site.
The Comrie Colliery site.

Work to clear an unsightly pit bing in Fife has stalled after the site owners went into liquidation.

The bing at Comrie Colliery near Saline once towered 130ft high and has been reduced in size since the pit closed in the 1980s.

However, work to clear the site ceased after former owners Land Regeneration and Development called in liquidators.

Locals have been told there are no remediation funds available to continue the work.

The Comrie Colliery site.

It is understood talks are under way with a potential new owner and campaigners hope the removal of waste from the mine will resume.

SNP councillor Alice McGarry, who is convener of South and West Fife Area Committee, said Fife Council would be working closely with whoever takes the site on.

“We need to ensure that restoration of the site continues to progress while protecting local residents during the restoration process,” she said.

Following the collapse of the market for coal, restoration works at the site were wholly funded by revenue generated from the recovery and sale of materials from the bing itself.

The company involved in that recovery work has since left the site.

When work was progressing it was still expected to take decades for the area, which was a deep mining site until 1986, to be restored.

Saline and Steelend Community Council previously called for the timescale to be shortened. 

Donald Murdoch, secretary of the group, said: “The local community obviously want this site cleared up, and that was reflected in what we put to the council when the application came in for an extension.

“But people are most concerned about the impact on the roads.”

While work at Comrie Colliery has stalled, a project to restore the former opencast site at Blair House near Oakley is taking shape thanks to a £3.1 million bond being released to allow work to go ahead.

Public footpaths and bridleways lost when the site was a working quarry have now been reinstated and a new wooden footbridge has been added to improve access.

Barrier planting has also taken place to improve public safety at the lochan.

A memorial to the nine miners who lost their lives in an underground fire at Kinneddar Colliery in 1895 can be found at the site. The council said a dedication ceremony for the memorial would be held but the timing would depend on Covid-19 restrictions.

Ms McGarry added: “It’s heartening to hear that the Blair House site is now being opened up. I hope it becomes a great natural asset to the people of Oakley.

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