Planning issues

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Your report on building our secondary school Madras College on green-belt (21 March) and critical letters (such as that from Dr Borthwick, 20 March) reveal well-founded opposition to Fife Council’s plan – understandably, considering three other recent articles.

Even short-term exposure to toxic traffic fumes can trigger strokes and lung, heart and circulatory diseases (25 March).

The council’s “no alternative site” mantra ensures decades of such often-fatal risks from 76 school-bus journeys daily through town (24,000 miles pa) – hardly responsible and entirely avoidable by building on superior, available, better-located university land. The latter, inter alia, also avoids constructing the school’s own biomass plant and chimney, in the middle of the school overlooking St Andrews from its southern boundary’s highest point (with visual impact, supply transport and safety implications) by simply connecting into the university’s Guardbridge biomass facility (28 March).

The council’s plan stems partly from supposed site value imbalances. It claims HMRC’s Valuation Office vetoed an exchange of the university site for the existing Madras building, after applying non-like-for-like valuation criteria to “justify” a windfall to the landowner of its preferred poorly located site!

As former Information Commissioner Prof Kevin Dunion says (Letters, 28 March) we have a significant “right to know” on environmental issues.

Through Freedom of Information requests, I discovered that Fife Council had no correspondence whatsoever with HMRC/VO about the site valuations (other than their chosen site) or Scotland’s relevant 2010 regulations permitting such exchanges irrespective of valuations.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews

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