A HUGE plot of land that was contaminated with cyanide and once described as the “largest area of post-industrial dereliction in West Fife” is up for sale.

The old Comrie Colliery had a 40-metres high bing that would “spontaneously combust”, it was laced with asbestos and contained “four million tonnes of debris”.

But the site, which spans 161 hectares, is being restored slowly and could be set for a bright future, with previous land use suggestions including a golf course, hotel, a school and houses.

Martin McGroarty, Fife Council’s lead professional in minerals, said: “The site is up for sale and I believe they’ve got to the point of identifying a preferred bidder.

“New ownership will coincide with a new plan to make sure the restoration continues to improve the site in an environmentally-friendly way.

“I presume they’ll have aspirations for development they can discuss with the council. Houses were mentioned before and it could be commercial leisure use or maybe some industrial units.

“One thing the site does have is a fantastic view right over to the Ochils.”

The site is just over a kilometre north of Blairhall and mining has taken place there since at least the 1860s. Comrie Colliery opened in 1939 and it operated under lease from 1963 until its closure in 1986.

The former pit became an eyesore with a “myriad of environmental problems” and a bing said to have been “burning since the mid-1970s”.

A council report said the sheer volume of carbonaceous material in it led to spontaneous combustion at the crest.

And the adjacent Bickram Wood was fenced off as “high levels of cyanide” were found there and it was thought to be the site of “unauthorised chemical dumping during World War II”.

More than 100 hectares of countryside were “unfit for any conventional countryside use”.

In 2014, the site owners, Land Regeneration and Development Ltd (LRD), outlined plans to build 77 homes in Blairhall with the profits going towards the restoration costs.

However, LRD and site operators LES both went into liquidation.

Kingdom Housing Association have acquired the Blairhall site, to the east of South Avenue, and hope to get planning permission for 77 homes.

However, as a non-profit making charity, there won’t be any money from the site for the Comrie Colliery restoration.

Mr McGroarty explained: “The liquidators, FRP Advisory, are on site now and restoration has been ongoing as there was a bond of about £400,000 that they and the council managed to get back.

“There was also two smallish areas of additional opencast mining that were consented on the site some years ago, and the return helped with the restoration, and there was another source through the Caledonia Group.

“They were taking bing material away and recycling some of the stone and using it off-site. That also helped.

“We’re coming to the end of the £400,000 bond money and the restoration fund has been exhausted.

“We’re also coming to the end of the planning consent for the restoration works so we’ve been in discussions with the liquidators as a new planning application is required.

“That will happen over the next few months.”

He continued: “It’s been a convoluted process but I’m happy with how things have progressed. Everything that’s been done has improved the situation and hopefully that will continue with the new owners.

“It’s not like an opencast mine where everything has been dug out.

“The bing is on top of the ground so they’re going to reprofile it, move the areas that were burning and drain the water that’s there.

“There’s one area at the top of the site where I think they’re going to have to to dig down to make sure.

“Clearly restoration works are still required. The bing is certainly not as bad as it was but it’s fairly obvious there were areas of spontaneous combustion.”