FILLING old mine workings with concrete to enable housebuilding to go ahead has caused flooding and drainage problems for Wellwood residents.

That's the claim of former Dunfermline councillor Ian Ferguson who fears it will happen again at another site where 1,400 homes are planned between Halbeath and Kingseat.

Old and disused mines are prevalent throughout West Fife and this can pose difficulties for developers as the land can be unstable and prone to collapse, but he's concerned the methods used to tackle the problem give water nowhere to go.

Dunfermline Press: Former Dunfermline councillor Ian Ferguson. Former Dunfermline councillor Ian Ferguson. (Image: Fife Council)

Mr Ferguson told the Press: "In April 2018 I attended a Wellwood Community Council as one of the three local Fife councillors.

"A single issue dominated the meeting. Housing developer I&H Brown had spent a year trying to make the area viable for housing.

"The solution to having old mine workings is 'grouting' which is the pouring of liquid concrete down old pit shafts.

"The concrete randomly fills up the void and sets solid. All very clever, when it works without any side effects."

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The developer did nothing wrong, the grouting was approved by Fife Council, but he said the "whole Wellwood community noticed the biggest downside".

The former councillor continued: "When the pits were left alone the water level inside them was pretty stable.

"It was like having an underground sponge-like storage facility.

"Pouring in concrete filled all the spaces. The water had to go somewhere.

"Across Wellwood gardeners became aware their garden soil was sodden, like a ‘squelchy sponge’ and surface water was popping up all over.

"Those who regularly walked from Wellwood to Townhill Loch said it was clear the loch was flooding back toward Wellwood at every opportunity."

He said grouting was also used to make the ground stable for housebuilding work in The Castings and Carnock Road area.

Dunfermline Press: Mr Ferguson said flooding problems have affected the playing fields at Queen Anne High School.Mr Ferguson said flooding problems have affected the playing fields at Queen Anne High School. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Ferguson said: "I spoke to the head of Queen Anne High School which borders the new development at Wellwood.

"It was confirmed the school playing fields were now very wet and muddy, and the neighbouring footpath often flooded."

Taylor Wimpey have permission to build 1,400 homes between Halbeath and Kingseat, with the first phase of 398 homes to go on land at the top right of Whitefield Road.

He added: "This land has been used for coal mining and quarrying for hundreds of years.

"Underground there are plenty of holes that will be targets for grouting, but the concrete sets wherever it stops.

"The whole area has been agricultural for several generations, the area holds stacks of water.

"So when the grouting begins, where will the water get displaced to?

"Last January we saw what can happen when water cannot find a route to rest, with Halbeath Road at Asda closed due to deep flooding."

Fife Council's service manager for development management, Alastair Hamilton, said: "We ask for specialist advice from qualified consultants when we're assessing developments, considering the impact on the water table, water courses and the geology of an area.

"The Coal Authority is a key consultee on anything that might have implications from the legacy issues of deep mining, and SEPA also provide advice when we're assessing these types of planning applications."

The Press asked Councillor David Barratt, who is also a hydrologist, for his view and he said: "The assertion that mine grouting could lead to increased surface water flooding isn’t completely without foundation.

"However, providing best practice has been followed, it should not occur.

"Groundwater as a primary source of flooding is rare in Scotland and is more often a contributing factor to surface water or river flooding, such as is being alleged here.

"Interestingly, the Wellwood area to the north of Dunfermline is highlighted in SEPA mapping as being a region where groundwater may contribute to flooding by prolonging or exacerbating its impacts.

"Hydrogeology is not my area of expertise, but I would expect the grouting to have been undertaken following detailed ground investigations and a hydrogeological impact assessment and I would expect gas and groundwater monitoring to have been in place during the grouting process to monitor any impacts."

He added: "Whether grouting could have impacted surface water flows in this case would depend on the nature of superficial deposits i.e. the layer of unconsolidated soil, sand and gravel overlying the mined rock.

"The British Geological Survey record the majority of the superficial deposits in the Wellwood area as glacial clay, which generally has a low permeability and would inhibit groundwater as a source of surface water, apart from drainage channels that are incised into these deposits or where they are locally thin. 

"Considering their assessment of potential groundwater flooding in the area, I would expect SEPA to have reviewed any assessment by the developer before the works were sanctioned.  I would expect the council and Coal Authority to have also reviewed the developers grouting plans and any hydrogeological impacts."