The owner of land on which thousands of tonnes of rubbish has been dumped must be responsible for its removal, Scotland’s environment minister has insisted.
Rotting piles of carpets, plasterboard and other rubbish have blighted the M90 Commerce Park at Lathalmond, near Dunfermline, for several years.
Mairi Gougeon, minister for rural affairs and the natural environment, said the taxpayer must not foot a bill previously estimated as to £1 million.
She was asked why authorities had not intervened to deal with “environment disaster” when questioned on the issue in the Scottish Parliament by Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley.
She said: “I completely understand the concern and frustration, especially because the situation has been going on for so long, and because people who live in the area are having to see and put up with the problem.
“We believe inherently that it should not be up to the public to pay for something that is the landowner’s responsibility.
“That is why we are determined to pursue all possible avenues for the landowner to take appropriate action first.”
She also said landowner Trans-Britannia Properties had agreed to meet Fife Council and environment agency Sepa to discuss clearance options, and Sepa said there was currently no risk to human health or the environment from material dumped there.
Mr Rowley said: “When I met Sepa six to eight months ago, it said then that it was due to have a meeting with representatives of the landowner, so not a lot of progress has been made.
“More than 7,000 tonnes of carpets and plasterboard, the majority of which came from local authorities and other public authorities across Scotland, were dumped on the site.
“Surely the government cannot allow that to continue year after year.
“It is an environmental disaster for which nobody seems to be willing to take any responsibility.”
Mounds of rubbish have scarred the landscape since recycling company First Option Services ceased trading in 2012.
In 2016, two directors of the firm were ordered to carry out unpaid work after being convicted of keeping controlled waste at the site in a manner likely to cause environmental pollution or harm to human health.
During the case, Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard there was potential for the waste to produce toxic hydrogen sulphide gas.