THE number of possible sites for a replacement Inverkeithing High School – estimated to cost "over £73 million" – has now increased to seven.

Fife Council had whittled down the options from 16 to six in March but the list has changed again, after widening the search out to 27 potential options.

Councillors had asked officers to reconsider and land at Pitreavie playing fields, Middlebank and Dover Heights in Dunfermline, Dalgety Bay, Donibristle and Camdean primary schools, Spencerfield, Calais Muir Wood, Broomhall and next to Rosyth Railway Station were among the sites looked at.

A report to Tuesday's education and children's services committee states the options now in the running are three sites in Inverkeithing North – one next to the current school, and two sites north of the A921– and one site, Caldwell Mill/Ballast Bank, in Inverkeithing South; and three plots of land in Rosyth, the Fleet Grounds, HMS Caledonia and West Rosyth.

Executive director Carrie Lindsay said: "The sites naturally cluster into three distinct locations and this presents an opportunity to explore the relative merits of the three localities in the round, in addition to the assessments of the individual sites."

Rosyth Waterfront, which was one of the original six possible sites, has now been ruled out.

Not surprisingly, given Taylor Wimpey have started building houses on the site after fighting for years to get planning permission, Spencerfield has also been discounted after the developer said the land was "not available".

The first stage in site assessment has been completed and there will now be further consideration of the seven options, with feasibility studies due to come to committee in August.

There will be a public consultation before a final decision is made.

Replacement high schools for Inverkeithing, St Columba's and Woodmill, as well as two in Glenrothes, have long been identified as top priorities for the council.

Education convenor Councillor Fay Sinclair has said previously that the inclusion of £119m for new schools in February's budget meant that proposals could progress – although Ms Lindsay said "significant investment" from the Scottish Government was still required to bring these plans to fruition.

Money was set aside in the capital plan to pay for the replacement IHS after co-leader David Ross said they were “very unlikely” to get anything from Holyrood for Inverkeithing.

At the time of the budget, he said: "We can’t wait any longer for the Scottish Government to sort out its finances so our new capital plan contains commitments to go ahead with the replacement of Inverkeithing and the extension of other secondary schools using our own resources."

Cllr Ross had added: “The cost of a replacement for Inverkeithing, which is now becoming critical, is estimated at over £73m."

Ms Lindsay's report for Tuesday's committee said that "discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust regarding potential opportunities for additional investment".