THE MULTI-MILLION pound plans to turn a former opencast coal site in Kelty into an iconic landscaped art project have been scrapped before they could be completed.

As part of the restoration of the St Ninian’s site, the project was meant to turn the area – blighted from the coal mining works – into a major tourist attraction which would bring visitors and money into Kelty.

Work had already begun on the attraction, which was dubbed the ‘Fife Earth Project’ and designed by world-renowned architect Charles Jencks (above), but complications arising from Scottish Coal’s liquidation means that the project will not be finished – a disappointing blow and a broken promise to the people of Kelty to whom Jencks dedicated the work.

He told the Press this week, “The facts are that our project was inexpensive, saved the company much money in restoration, celebrated Scotland history and diaspora and would have been completed except that many coal companies went to the wall, including the one who asked me to do this restoration.” Plans for the 665-acre park were announced in 2009 and were originally supposed to include four different-shaped landscape mounds – one conical, one triangular, one rectangular and one horn-shaped – which represented the continents Scotland had influenced in history and the 40 million people of Scots descent overseas.

The site was also to feature more than six miles of walkways, a large open water body with dramatic cliffs and a Scotland-shaped loch, creating a major tourist attraction and providing a boost to the future economy of Kelty and the surrounding area.

However, because of Scottish Coal’s demise, the plans will not be completed as originally intended. New operators, Hargreaves, stepped in after Scottish Coal collapsed and have worked to finish the excavation and restore the former coal site to a green space but it will lack the significant drawing power of a huge public art landscape.

Alex Rowley MSP said he was “deeply concerned” about the lack of transparency from Fife Council and has written to ask them for clarification regarding the development.

“I met Hargreaves at this site as well as Muirdean and on both occasions I stressed to them the need for public engagement and information sessions,” he said. “I also asked Fife Council for complete transparency over the future development of these sites. On both counts there seems to be complete failure to engage with local communities and to have complete transparency.

“The people of Kelty should not be reading about this through the Press and there should be a public engagement meeting with all the facts on the table including the amount of money that was pulled in by the bonds, the amount of money the company has made for the final coaling it has carried out and what plans are there to now put the site back to the original condition.” Mr Rowley added that the people of Kelty had been promised something that hadn’t been delivered and that the lack of openness and transparency was “not acceptable.” Jim Birrell, senior manager of Fife Council’s planning department, said, “The site will be fully restored according to plans approved by Fife Council’s planning committee and contractual agreements with the current site operator, Hargreaves Services Ltd.

“The Fife Earth Project was linked to the previous owners of the mine, Scottish Coal. While the project will not be completed as originally designed by Charles Jencks, the site will be fully restored and the elements from the Fife Earth Project that are already on site will be kept and maintained.

“We are still in discussions about the after-care, maintenance and potential long-term uses for the site.” Site operators Hargreaves did not wish to make any comment at this time when approached by the Press.