PLANS to build a Northern Link Road (NLR) "right through the middle" of Townhill Country Park should be scrapped.

That's according to the Fife Green Party, who fear the £20 million-plus bypass will ruin the tranquil and popular spot and run contrary to newly-approved Scottish Government rules.

The NLR – between Halbeath and Milesmark – has been planned by Fife Council to serve new housing estates in north Dunfermline, take traffic away from the city centre and provide quick links to the motorway network.

Fife Greens activist and local resident Mags Hall described Townhill Loch as a "special place" and said: “When my son was a baby, we walked the cycle path up to the loch every day, and now we still visit it two or three times a week.

"It’s such a well-used park and one of the few bits of nature locally that’s accessible to buggies, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

"And yet hardly anyone realises this is earmarked for a major road right through the middle of the park."

Townhill Country Park is made up of three areas: the loch, where the national waterski centre is also based; the recreation ground where the playparks, tennis courts and football pitches are; and Townhill Wood, east of the village.

The NLR does not have planning permission and, for now, the route is not definite.

However, the indicative line would see the bypass built on the eastern edge of the loch and west of the village, allotments and recreation ground.

Mags said this was the "most popular" area for fishing, a bridle path and "beautiful spot for nature".

At the north end of the village, the NLR would head west through the Colton site and on towards Wellwood.

She added: "Building a road along this route would totally change the natural environment, the way people use the park and the enjoyment people get from it.

"Most people using the park are completely unaware of these proposals and I'm sure would be shocked to find out about them."

The Fife Greens are hoping the fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4), which was passed a fortnight ago and lays out the policies councils must use to decide where to site new houses, roads, schools and industrial sites, will aid their cause.

It says climate and the environment must be a top priority, along with providing active travel routes and protecting green spaces.

Mags said: "The first three policies are all about protecting biodiversity and ensuring planning contributes to tackling climate change.

"Building a road through the middle of a country park couldn’t be more at odds with these policies."

The Fife Greens want the council to pause plans for the NLR and carry out a review.

She added: "This will give people in the local area the time to properly engage with the plans, let the council know what the park means to them and ensure we can save our precious green space.

"It is just an indicative route at the moment – the road still needs to be granted full planning permission – but the fact that it's in the local development plan means it's highly likely to get these permissions when the council decide to move ahead with it.

"That's why we're campaigning now to get it removed from the revised version of the local development plan."

Fife Council's head of planning, Pam Ewen, confirmed that future planning applications would be assessed against these development plan policies, including NPF4, once adopted.

"A number of developments have been approved as part of the northern expansion of Dunfermline, and it is important that transportation infrastructure including walking and cycling routes is delivered to ensure new communities are integrated within the city."