WORK to remove radioactive pollution from the beach at Dalgety Bay is finally due to begin in just a few weeks.

Locals have been waiting for action from the Ministry of Defence for years but now contractors Balfour Beatty are expected to start the clear-up in July, community officials have been told.

The project has been pushed back on several occasions and work finally should have started in April but again faced setbacks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The clean-up will continue until September but will then be put on hold until next spring/summer.

It cannot continue over the winter months, as Dalgety Bay is home to wading birds which spend the winter there, and will re-commence in April 2021 for a further six months.

In all, the £10.5 million contract should be finished by 2022 if estimations go to plan.

Councillor David Barratt, who represents Dalgety Bay, said: "It's a positive surprise as we thought the pandemic would totally stop plans to do anything this year and it would be delayed yet again.

"Preparation works will start, such as moving some boats at Dalgety Bay Sailing Club to Port Edgar.

"It could be a bit longer than 2022 now I suppose.

"I have to say it's a case of I'll believe it when I see it.

"There have been a lot of false starts but there has been so much by the Dalgety Bay Sailing Club trying to drive this forward.

"They have been very professional and diligent and they deserve credit for that."

The pollution came from Second World War planes which had aircraft dials coated in a luminous paint to help pilots see in the dark. The paint contained radium-226.

The dangers of radiation poisoning weren’t known at the time and, after the war, the planes were broken up and burned at Donibristle airbase, with the resultant ash and clinker dumped along the foreshore.

More than 3,000 radioactive particles have been found at the beach, in nearby gardens and next to Dalgety Bay Sailing Club, and restrictions were put in place in 2011, with parts of the beach fenced off and fishing banned.

The MoD finally accepted responsibility and defence chiefs agreed a plan to remove the pollution in July 2014 but there have been continual delays.

Last November, the MoD blamed local stakeholders for the slow progress, saying they were "dragging their feet", only for the sailing club, the main landowner, to hit back at their "bullying tactics".

They said the suggestion they were at fault was "completely unfounded, inaccurate and misleading".

The following month, an Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland report said there had been “no significant increase in the overall risk of cancer in Dalgety Bay” as a result of the contamination. The studies covered the period from 1975 to 2017.

An MoD spokesperson said: “We remain committed to delivering the work as set out in the agreed strategy for the long-term management of radium contamination at Dalgety Bay.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the amount of physical work that can be safely done this year due to Government guidelines on social distancing but we expect to progress as soon as possible.”