Fife Council is in “uncharted territory” over the development of a management strategy to tackle radioactive contamination on Dalgety Bay beach.
However, assurances have been given that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be held to account as the timetable progresses.
The plans to tackle radioactive contamination on Dalgety Bay beach were discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s executive committee in Glenrothes.
Councillors considered a progress report on MoD plans for the management strategy and timetable for progress towards the long-term clean-up solution that will allow the public to use the area again.
The MoD’s proposed works include removing known higher-activity contamination and building a cover system. Replacing or reinforcing existing rock armour to try to stop contamination into the foreshore is also planned.
Council depute leader Lesley Laird, said: “We are literally in uncharted territory here but Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) had done a good job holding the MoD’s feet to the fire.”
Mrs Laird said it was now important a robust framework is developed and she looks forward to the community council being kept involved in those ongoing discussions.
Keith Winter, council executive director for enterprise and environment, said the project is “unusual” given that large-scale coastal protection works were being proposed to mitigate against the loss of known radium contamination into the foreshore and not because of concerns about coastal erosion.
He said council officers have been working with the MoD and Sepa over the past few months to draw up a memorandum of agreement clarifying roles and responsibilities for the works and future maintenance and warranties.
The MoD will be responsible for funding, designing and constructing the works. The council will be responsible for planning application advice and post-completion aftercare for the rock armour.
The council has also made sure it understands what information will need to accompany any planning or environmental impact assessment that may be submitted to it after the management strategy is finalised.
Councillors agreed that the council will continue with that engagement and ensure a timetable for implementing the work is progressed as quickly as possible.
Dunfermline South SNP councillor Brian Goodall welcomed the progress. He said that because of the MoD’s track record of evading responsibility, the council needs to “keep the pressure on”.
Glenrothes West councillor Peter Grant, who is also SNP group leader on the council, commended council officers and said: “Let’s get moving on the agreement and make sure no party is allowed to step back.”
Noting that there would be a 24-month validation period to ensure works had met their objectives, and given there had been severe storms of late, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay Conservative councillor David Dempsey hopes “no one would get off the hook” if the storms abated during that 24-month period.
The MoD is to pay an estimated £10 million to clean up radiation on Dalgety Bay beach, after a campaign by residents concerned about health risks.
Some 3,500 radioactive particles have been found at Dalgety Bay over the past two decades. The material is thought to date back to when parts of Second World War aircraft, including their radiated instruments, were dumped at the site.
Defence chiefs confirmed last year that work will include removing the particles from the beach, and building a wall and slipway.