Improving the notorious Standing Stane Road is a critical factor in the economic regeneration of Levenmouth, it has been claimed.
George Sneddon, economic development manager with Fife Council, said upgrading the single-carriageway A915, as well as reopening the long campaigned-for rail link in five years time, would attract more businesses and tourists.
Upgrading the road, the scene of daily bottlenecks and numerous serious accidents, would also help people travel to work in and around Levenmouth, he said.
Mr Sneddon was speaking as he updated councillors on the area’s economic profile.
Figures for the 12 months to December show almost 80% of people in Levenmouth are in employment – more than in Fife and Scotland as a whole.
However, almost half the jobs are classified as low-skilled, with only 22% described as high-skilled.
Levenmouth also has the highest benefits claimant rate in Fife, with figures for the Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages ward more than double the Fife average.
People travelling from Levenmouth to work tend to earn more than those who work in the area.
Mr Sneddon said there were challenges to overcoming the long-term employment issues.
“What’s coming through is the issues of health, poverty and unemployment are deep-rooted,” he said.
“Major changes need to be introduced in the area.”
He said that while much was being done to improve things, such as upgrading the River Leven Valley and Silverburn Park, more work was needed to maximise the potential of Fife Energy Park.
“One of the major opportunities for the area is to promote Levenmouth as a low carbon area of the future,” he said.
“How do we maximise the opportunities at the energy park given the challenges facing BiFab at the moment?
“We’ll continue to support the work of the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and DF Barnes.
“Improvements at Methil Docks, repairing the sea wall and re-energising the high street are also ongoing.”
Mr Sneddon agreed the rail link, which was given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government last month, would help people access higher-skilled jobs.
“Connectivity is fundamental,” he said.
“The rail link will help that. Improving the Standing Stane Road is another critical factor, I would suggest.”
SNP councillor Ken Caldwell, convener of Levenmouth area committee, said there were a number of deep-rooted challenges in the area but added: “There are a lot of major projects on the go currently.
“With the rail link there is lot’s of opportunity and we can see things happening that are getting people ready to make the most of those opportunities.”