A CONSERVATIONIST said it is "concrete first and environment last" in Dunfermline after plans for a £1.5 million business park were approved.

Martin Willcocks, of the Save the Calais Woods Wildlife group, said the 10 industrial units off Sandpiper Drive got the go-ahead despite their long-standing application to protect trees from being chopped down having not been considered.

He told the Press: "There was no public consultation for this site. Because it's a Fife Council site and it's out of the way, I feel they just pushed it through and hoped nobody noticed.

"With applications like this, the environment is right at the bottom of the list and the kind of laws that are supposed to be in place to protect it are weak.

"The planning system needs a shake-up.

"Developers just pay it lip service and it's concrete first and environment last. I think environment needs to come first."

The business park, west of the M90 motorway and north of the Amazon warehouse, will house a terrace of four and a block of six industrial units, all with solar panels.

There will be 63 parking spaces.

At the west and central planning committee, Dunfermline South councillor James Calder asked if the application could be deferred until the application for a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) could be determined.

It's not been done so far due to a long-term staff vacancy and planning service manager Mary Stewart told him: "It wouldn't be appropriate to hold a planning application to allow the council to deliberate, effectively, as to whether they wish to promote a TPO."

Planning officer Jamie Penman said he believed the area of trees – 1,540 square metres in size – to be removed was not covered by the proposed TPO and that cutting them down was considered acceptable as they were "mostly young trees" and 965 trees and 600 shrubs would be planted to compensate for their loss.

The 11 objections raised issues such as impact on the woodland to the south, road safety, noise and air pollution, effect on wildlife and flooding.

However, Mr Penman said the land was zoned for employment use and "no concerns have been raised which would outweigh the development plan".

After the meeting, Cllr Calder said: "Many will feel it's unfair that this application was considered before the council had discharged its duties on the request by members of the community for a TPO."

He stated it was "deeply concerning" there was no tree protection officer in place and added: “The council needs to redouble its efforts to fill the vacancy to avoid this situation happening again."

The Lib Dem councillor said no further progress should take place until the TPO had been considered.

Mr Willcocks said: "Cllr Calder is spot-on. We put in a TPO request last October for that area of woodland and two others at the Shepherd Offshore site, where the schools are being built.

"We asked for them to be protected as all three are important corridors for Calais Woods.

"It is the major woodland for Dunfermline, a public green space, but to keep its quality you have to protect the things that give it its quality and that's not being done.

"The tree protection officer retired last year, it's really disappointing they haven't filled that vacancy yet."

He continued: "The strip of land is, I believe, classed as ancient woodland so the buffer zone should be 15 metres and not 10m.

"It curls into an area of newer trees, probably from when Sandpiper Drive was built 20-25 years ago, that's to be cut away.

"I'd need to check but I think those trees were included in our TPO proposal.

"So they're cutting down trees that are already well established, and 25 years in the making, to plant more trees. It's bizarre."