THE current Inverkeithing High site has been ruled out again as the location for a £70 million replacement school for 2,000 pupils.

The education and children's services committee voted 9-5 in favour of the decision they took in October, with a site north of the A921 at Hillend and the Fleet Grounds in Rosyth the two preferred options.

A scrutiny committee forced councillors to look again at the existing site but it was discounted on Tuesday due to concerns about cost, asbestos, land constraints, having to move all the pupils and obtaining consent to demolish a listed building.

Sixteen possible sites have been whittled down to two and Rosyth councillor Tony Orton made the case for bringing it 'home', telling the committee the high school had been in the town from 1919 to 1972 and only moved to Inverkeithing because of the development of Dalgety Bay.

He argued that, with new housing developments at Broomhall and Hilton in Rosyth, a high school west of the M90 motorway would be closer to the majority of the school-age population.

Cllr Orton also said that using the existing site would cost around £89m compared to around £67m at the Fleet Grounds.

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor David Barratt said it would be a "significant setback" if the town lost its high school.

He said he "remained unconvinced" about the council officers' case for ruling out the existing site and that it was "inconceivable" they'd be left with an empty building for years to come if the decision was to build elsewhere.

Cllr Barratt added it wasn't clear how extensive the asbestos problem was and also asked whether a decant was necessary, asking if the school could be knocked down over two months in the summer holidays instead.

The council had previously stated that remodelling or demolishing the existing school before building a new one would result in a whole school decant, which could cost up to £12m.

And councillors were also told on Tuesday that gaining permission from Historic Environment Scotland to knock down the B-listed building could take years.

While it was possible to develop the existing site, council officers said "this option would require significant time, resource and funding".

Councillor Fay Sinclair, convener of the committee, said: "This has been covered in a lot more detail and has been given a lot of scrutiny to make sure all the points and questions have been picked up.

"From my point of view, nothing has significantly changed from the decision we took at the last committee so I move that the preferred options for the replacement school are the two identified at the previous committee."

An amendment by Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Dave Dempsey said the existing site should remain as an option until there was a clearer picture of the amount and location of the asbestos.

He argued that a replacement school there would be in the centre of the catchment and that a new pavement and cyclepath between Dalgety Bay and Inverkeithing, to encourage pupils to walk and cycle to school, would "cease to be meaningful" if another site was chosen.

Cllr Dempsey added that the existing site was the only option where the council already owned the land, and said the impact on Inverkeithing of losing its high school shouldn't be forgotten.

However, the amendment was defeated and the council will now look at funding, negotiate acquisition costs with landowners, prepare a brief for each option and appoint a design team.