A bid to fence off a Fife harbour, restricting public access, has sparked a backlash from locals.
A petition calling on Burntisland harbour operators Forth Ports to reconsider the move has attracted more than 1,500 signatures in just 24 hours.
Forth Ports is asking Fife Council for approval to press on with its plan, first revealed by The Courier in March 2020, to erect a fence around the site.
The scheme would almost entirely close off the area which locals have been allowed to access for centuries.
Harbour bosses say they are acting to tackle health and safety concerns.
In November 2018, a 65-year-old man died at the site after being pulled from the water.
Campaigner Andy Pay, who set up the petition, said he had been staggered by the strength of the response.
“It certainly sends a clear and unequivocal message to those in charge of the harbour that this desire to fence off the area must be reconsidered,” he said.
“We can all appreciate the need for health and safety but this move seems to be wholly disproportionate to the risks and would deny access to an area that has been enjoyed by everyone for countless generations.
“There has to be a way of making the necessary areas safe without ring fencing the whole site.”
Fellow campaigne Leo Du Feu, who has an artist’s studio directly opposite the port and is a regular visitor to the harbour, said fencing off the area would be “a disaster” for the town.
He said: “We should be treating the harbour as an asset not cutting it off.
“It is a haven for wildlife and has become an extremely popular place for people to visit and enjoy, even more so during the pandemic when people’s well-being and exercise are hugely important.
“There is so much potential for the site which if explored could be so beneficial to wider community.”
The port authority said it had consulted local groups and community representatives on its plans.
Derek Knox, Senior Port Manager, said: “We recognise that the local community feels strongly about this issue and we can state categorically that we have no intention to close off the whole of the Port of Burntisland.
“We are, however, legally responsible for the safety of everyone at the port and can only allow public access where it is safe.
“A review of our premises, following recent events, has highlighted the need for further safety measures.
“To meet our obligations we must now limit access to certain areas within what is a working, industrial port.
“We are confident that our plans will enable the people of Burntisland to continue to walk through the port, but safely and avoiding areas of higher risk.”