Allegations that a university rowing club could have exclusive use of Loch Ore have been denied.
The University of St Andrews Boat Club hopes to build a boat house at Lochore Meadows Country Park, under a 40-year lease from Fife Council.
Councillor Linda Holt claimed the deal would see use of the loch effectively privatised and was informed that it would be authorised by council officers without the need for approval from local councillors.
However, Councillor Linda Erskine, convenor of the council’s Cowdenbeath area committee, said the club already used the loch regularly and negotiations over the lease had been put on hold until the findings of a public consultation exercise were known.
The park — known locally as the Meedies — was at the centre of a row about its new visitor centre earlier this year, amid anger about a lack of public consultation on its design.
Conservative councillor for East Neuk and Landward, Mrs Holt, said: “Local people were very disappointed to learn that the university has no intention to share the facility with other rowers at the Meedies and no concrete plans for any community outreach work at Lochgelly High School or other local schools.
“Giving St Andrews University a 40-year lease for the exclusive use of the loch for rowing with their own secured compound and boat house effectively privatises a key part of the Meedies.
“St Andrews University’s rowing teams will have priority over other loch users, and this lease kills off other leisure development possibilities, such as for fishing, on the water.”
A consultation event at Benarty Centre last month at which the club exhibited its plans was “very belated”, she said.
However, Mrs Erskine said: “There’s no suggestion of the university having exclusive use of the loch.
“They practice in a certain area early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and a mid-week afternoon, which brings more footfall to the country park.
“I’d encourage people to take a walk through the Meedies at the weekend and watch the boats; it’s a lovely sight and something I’ve heard local people saying they’ve enjoyed over the past 18 months.
“A 40-year ground lease has been proposed for a boat house but nothing has been decided yet.
“There’s an ongoing process and negotiations over the terms of any lease are on hold at the moment until we hear the findings of a public consultation exercise.”
Local councillors and community councillors had been informed, she said, and the area committee would want to be involved in plans as they developed.
The university said: “The development of a boat house for the university’s rowing club on disused land does not impact upon the parkland area or current users and would allow the university to further develop its community outreach activities and junior rowing program.
“Our rowing club trains at set times in a specific area on the loch so as to minimise disruption to other users.
“We have repeatedly said this use does not prevent any of the other loch activities taking place.”