Green MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell has said residents around Fife’s massive Westfield project should receive more than quarter of a million pounds of community benefit funds if plans go ahead.
But he warned against “greenwashing” in the proposals, where less environmentally friendly projects are dressed up as clean and green, and urged councilors to make sure community benefit is a condition of any future detailed planning applications.
“The site at Westfield is ideal for a renewable energy park, with proposals for a solar farm contributing to the wind generation already taking place at the former mine,” he said.
But he was concerned “the real heart” may be an incinerator to burn, rather than recycle, waste.
There is already significant capacity for incinerators in Scotland, he added.
He said he was also concerned about a lack of detail about community benefit.
“According to Scottish Government guidelines, residents in Kinglassie, Ballingry, Scotlandwell and the surrounding areas should receive around £275,000 a year from community benefit funding, which will help mitigate the costs of having an industrial development as their neighbour.”
He said more than £12 million had been distributed in the last year to communities beside renewable energy projects, which has been spent on local car and cycle share schemes, new community halls and sports training facilities.
“This money could be transformational for communities which have been badly impacted by generations of dirty extractive industry, but only if Fife Council ensures this is a condition of any future development on the site.”
Local resident Louise Batchelor from Scotlandwell said: “I am extremely concerned that this so-called green proposal includes a large incinerator and that the only access to the whole development will be along the road beside Loch Leven, meaning a massive increase in HGVs six days a week.
“I welcome the idea of a genuine green energy park producing solar power but I fear that is not what we’re going to get.”
With the green light given earlier this week, further detailed planning applications would need to be submitted before building work could start.