FIFE'S planning system has been branded "farcical" by Dunfermline campaigners.

Calais Woods Conservation Group helped drum up 270 objections against plans submitted by Shepherd Offshore to create a southern access road serving new homes near the £180 million super campus site.

When the developers withdrew proposals recently, the group celebrated a small victory, but are now exasperated at news that plans will be resubmitted and the campaign will need to start over again.

It follows protests by the group against the felling of dozens of trees on land near Dunlin Drive (where the road was proposed) without warning last month.

Forestry Scotland investigated the incident and has since concluded that Shepherd had not broken the law – but if it fells any more trees it could become liable for prosecution.

The saga has raised lot of questions for the conservation group about the planning system and its effect on communities.

Chair Martin Willcocks said: "It appears farcical and severely unfair that plans can just be pulled and then they can just resubmit.

"We put in detailed questions as there a lot of things that were not right and it was quite obvious that they were not right. The tree-felling should not have been carried out at the time either.

"We can only assume it was withdrawn because they knew it was going to be rejected.

"We feel as a group there is a severe lack of integrity, process and professionalism from Fife Council planners.

"Some of their actions do not seem to add up and their answers are always very vague, as if they are holding back."

The original purpose of Calais Woods Conservation Group was to protect the area from over-development that's caused harm to wildlife in the past but, in recent months, they have spent increasing time challenging planning applications.

Members say they have spent dozens of hours trawling through the pages of applications trying to make sense of the technicalities, only to hear they'll have to go through the process again when plans are resubmitted.

Former Fife MSP Jayne Baxter, who is secretary of the group, said: "For the community to have a voice, it takes an enormous effort.

"Thankfully, we have a range of knowledge and some technical skills, but it begs the question, how can the community engage?"

Duloch dad Robin Irwin, who is a member of the group, added: "People feel short-changed.

"The application was fundamentally flawed but there were documents there that weren't put up until the middle of the consultation.

"I calculated it would take 38 hours just to read the masterplan for 2014 which is related to that application and the public only gets a fixed window.

"Then they withdraw – it's a waste of time and taxpayers' money.

"None of this is pragmatic for the community.

"They've destroyed trees and destroyed trust in the planning process and this is just one example.

"In my mind, they'd already picked where the road was going."

The group have also called for a more holistic approach to development in Duloch. Robin said: "We don't want applications to be sent in on a piecemeal basis.

"There is lots of positivity with the new education site but there is really questionable aspects too.

"There is no joined-up thinking from the council and there's a lack of leadership to manage this super campus and housing.

"We recently found out there is no wildlife plan too and the more you peel the onion, you realise nothing is happening."

Jayne, who is invested as a resident who will see her grandchildren go to school at the super campus, added: "The planning needs to be right from the start.

"This is about trying to future-proof the area, not ticking boxes, we want this community to be thriving in the future."

Fife Council service manager, Alastair Hamilton, gave a reassurance that the planning process afforded plenty of opportunities for community involvement.

He added: "The views of the local community are being considered as part of the process.

"The Duloch masterplan is complex and ambitious and all related planning proposals will be rigorously scrutinised before final decisions are made."