LONG-AWAITED work to remove radioactive pollution from a Dalgety Bay beach is set to start today (Monday).

SEPA have issued a permit to allow the remediation to take place and say the work "will be done once and it will be done right" and provide a "permanent and positive" resolution.

Specialist SEPA officers will be on site to ensure all conditions are fully complied with and that public health is protected during the £10.5m operation.

Radioactive material was first detected on Dalgety Bay foreshore in 1990.

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 in 2014 and defence chiefs agreed a plan to remove the pollution but there have been continual delays.

Remediation will involve excavating areas of the foreshore, replacing rock armour around the headland and installing a new slipway for the Dalgety Bay Sailing Club – stopping erosion and preventing public access to any remaining contamination.

Dr Paul Dale, Radioactive Substances Manager at SEPA, welcomed the latest development.

"Communities around Dalgety Bay have, for many years, lived with the environmental legacy of second world war radium contamination on the shore," he said.

"SEPA has been clear in our requirements that remediation will be done once, and it will be done right – providing a permanent and positive resolution.

“Whilst restricting beach access, monitoring and retrieving particles stipulated by SEPA has ensured the public has been protected, this work will deal with the situation once and for all.

"The journey towards successful remediation without the requirement to designate the foreshore as Radioactive Contaminated Land has only been possible because SEPA, Fife Council and the MoD have continued to work constructively together with a range of partner organisations, scientific experts and, most importantly, the local community.

"This is indeed an important milestone for Dalgety Bay and for Scotland’s stunning environment.”

Heavy excavating and moving equipment is expected to be brought onsite this week by the MoD contractors.

Rock armour around the headland will be replaced while a new slipway for the sailing club will be installed.

Areas of the foreshore will also be excavated and processed to remove asbestos and radiological contamination.

Fencing will screen the working areas and transit routes from the excavation areas.

The remediation will be ongoing until October 2021 when it will stop and restart in April 2022 because work cannot take place during the winter months because Dalgety Bay is home to wading birds which winter in the area.

Once remediation has been completed and verified by SEPA, it is expected that all the current restrictions will be lifted and the public will be able to enjoy unrestricted access for the first time since 2011.