HILLEND families have won their fight against plans for a gas station just 250 metres from their homes.

But proposals for a gas power station in Inverkeithing have been given the green light despite environmental concerns.

Members of Fife Council's central and west planning committee approved an application which will see the creation of a facility with associated infrastructure on the Belleknowes Industrial Estate.

The firm behind the plans say the development is designed to "smooth over the troughs" in electricity supply and help to add power quickly to the National Grid during times of high demand.

Gas Generation Growforth Ltd had hoped to build a similar facility in Clockluine Road in Hillend, however, had their bid for planning permission rejected last April. A subsequent appeal to the Fife Planning Review Board was turned down on Monday much to the joy of local residents and campaigners who had raised fears over the impact on air quality.

Groups including the Hillend Action Group, Extinction Rebellion Fife and Friends of the Earth Scotland staged a protest at Fife House during the hearing.

They said granting permission for new fossil fuel infrastructure – which would have seen a 10-stack gas peaking plant built just 250 metres from homes – was incompatible with Fife Council’s climate emergency declaration from 2019.

Four out of five councillors refused the appeal due to concerns over public health.

The applicants said their models had shown there would be no serious impact on air quality, however, Ian Wragg, from the Hillend Action Group, disputed those claims due to the geography of the village.

He told the committee: “The characteristics of the area make it unsuitable. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air. This is only 250 metres away from people’s homes – I don’t think anyone could reasonably say this was a good idea.

"The toxic gases would get trapped in the valley because of the temperature inversions. A model is just a model, it’s not scientific proof.”

Concerns were raised over the model data used, which came from Edinburgh Airport being the nearest weather station. Locals argued that the flat, open surface was not comparable with the valley that made up Hillend.

Councillor Mino Manekshaw said: “The modelling represented has raised enough concerns and due to the specific nature of the site, I would want to be extra cautious because public health is at stake. I’m no more confident after the presentation than the original officers.”

Following the decision, Mr Wragg said reversing the initial decision would have created "Fife's air quality death valley."

"Common sense came through," he said. "We were clearly delighted that it had been rejected and Fife Council had listened to a lot of people, SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) and the NHS.

"It is a huge achievement, it really demonstrates that communities can fight back when developers bring inappropriate proposals to communities.

"What was telling during the hearing was not once did councillors raise any issues around climate emergency or carbon emissions. The difficulty for them is that planning policy has not caught up with climate emergency."

He added that while they were alarmed at the decision to proceed with the Belleknowes plans, the thought of two plants within such a close proximity would have been a "disaster" for the local area.

"The councillors came to the conclusion that the location on an industrial estate away from people's homes was arguably more appropriate than putting one right next to a local community," he explained.

Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Mark Ruskell, welcomed the Hillend decision.

“This is entirely the right decision from Fife Council’s review panel – another gas peaking plant north of Hillend, when a similar development only a kilometre away was approved last week, would have had serious impacts on the local community," he said.

"However, the decision was made on the basis of the visual impact and air pollution concerns – the climate emergency was not discussed once throughout the three-hour meeting. These are fossil fuel plants which will have a significant impact on our climate change emissions, right at a time when we need to be radically shifting to low-carbon options.

"Councils need stronger powers to reject applications like this based on a negative climate impact. I’ll be calling for the Government to update planning guidance to ensure local democracy can play its part in tackling the climate emergency.”