Supplied by Forth Ports Larger image
The yellow lines are the proposed new fences. The green line is a very welcome commitment for space for a new path.
Forth Ports’ plans to fence in a significant section of the docks area were discussed at Friday’s, monthly, Community Council meeting (open to the public).
Representatives of the Community Council met Forth Ports in mid February and discussed the plans. At that time Forth Ports were expecting fencing work to start in ‘about 4-6 weeks’.
So far there is no information about a firm start date or the style and height of the fencing. Additionally there is no detailed information about access for Sailing Club members or people exercising ancient Royal Charter rights to keep a boat at Shanks Pier.
Forth Ports has discussed its intentions with various local organisations but not, it appears, Fife Council – relevant senior officials contacted by Cllr Backhouse on Thursday were unaware of the plans.
As Forth Ports is a statutory undertaker it doesn’t require planning permission for work directly related to “the purposes of shipping”.
However as the work is a consequence of an HSE investigation into the death of a local fisherman, nearly 18 months ago, it’s not clear that the latest developments are directly related to the main activities of a port.
There are real concerns about criminal damage, vandalism and anti-social behaviour (particularly empty cans and discarded fishing tackle along the long breakwater from the Lammerlaws – marked as “foreshore” on the image above).
A simple solution might seem to be ‘fence it off’, but access to the dock area is seen as a ‘right’ by many people which some have been exercising for longer than the current owners have had the responsibility for the harbour area.
Several people at the Community Council meeting reminisced about their younger days, including walking over shut lock gates.
Times change – in many ways. Now there is much more concern about safety and security. But there are also expectations about openness and scrutiny.
A planning application for work connected with the ending of access to the long breakwater (and the parallel path behind Scott Pallets) and also for improving the area where Burntislanders claim the right to mend boats would be a good move.
It would also be an opportunity to investigate whether the road to the Sailing Club needs to be gated.
Another issue that needs resolving is the removing of the turning place for the B1 Town Bus (subsidised by Fife Council). This enters the docks more than 20 times a day.
The Council is currently progressing a £170k Cross Forth Travel project which is a “transport appraisal to assess transport needs and opportunities in the Fife and wider travel area“ (and includes Burntisland Station).
Forth Ports has indicated that it is willing to come to a future Community Council meeting, but has said that no one will be available for the April meeting which is at the start of the Easter holidays.
Meanwhile it’s hoped local councillors will meet with Fife Council and Forth Ports officials to establish the best way of dealing with all these issues and allow the smooth operation of this historic port and also consider the rights and responsibilities of residents of, and visitors to, Burntisland.
Article in Saturday’s Courier (14.3.2020.) Larger