The ST Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited

The Association has been set up with the aim of protecting the environment of St Andrews and North East Fife.

Meeting Reports

24th January 2016

John Birkett reports the STEPAL Open meeting for 'St Andrews in Focus'.

No doubt a good number of "Focus" readers were among the dozens of local residents who attended the first Open Meeting held by STEPAL (St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd) on Sunday, 24 January at the COSMOS Centre in Abbey Walk.

STEPAL is not a "one-trick pony", although the public perception of its own "focus" has inevitably been its concerns about Madras College's relocation to Pipeland Farm. On the contrary, the group members are multi-taskers riding several horses at once!

So the drop-in meeting's objective was to inform the interested public of those proposed developments and planning applications in and around St Andrews, which STEPAL feels are worthy of wider debate, being to the disadvantage of the townscape, landscape, seascape, and general environment of our Royal Burgh, this unique gem where we are privileged to live.

They do nor automatically object to any and all new projects - they agree many are fully justified, or inevitable, but need amelioration. But they believe the town also needs more publicity about, and often protection from, those developments in particular which are intended to last for several decades, affecting successive generations of St Andreans and NE Fifers.

They see STEPAL's role as complementary to that of the St Andrews Preservation Trust, in promoting community engagement, and in supporting planners and councillors when trying to balance adherence to sensible planning policy and procedures against political preferences.

The meeting covered displays, stalls, and an animated visual display on a large screen, covering the Green Belt, Fife-Plan, TayPlan, Feddinch, West Sands, New Park/Priory Gardens, Southern Hillside, the Scottish Government Planning Review, and Pipeland - on all of which STEPAL has made representations to the relevant bodies.

STEPAL supporters gave out information, answered questions, expanded on the visitors' knowledge, noted their concerns, corrected any misunderstandings.

Many visitors seemed impressed with the wide range of STEPAL's activities and the detail of its concerns. Others, who had not fully appreciated the rationale for their Pipeland objection, found their arguments well-based and credible, with one even volunteering something like "you're not the people you've been made out to be"!

The issues raised will be taken into account by STEPAL at the next open event on Sunday, 6 March, details of which will be publicised nearer the time, but may feature Madras/ Pipeland's implications for traffic, emergency services, hospital/hospice, biomass plant, and Station Park.



6th March 2016

STEPAL – The St Andrews Environmental Protection Association
Scottish Charity Number SCO46115


The second of the series of open meetings being held by STEPAL took place on the afternoon of Sunday, 6th March, 2016, in the Green Room of the Cosmos Community Centre, a voluntary organisation established in 1971 to support community education and provide facilities for people of all ages in St Andrews and the surrounding area. (see:

The format was the same as that of the first meeting - a drop-in session with information areas on a variety of, in this instance, transport related local issues. Dr William Borthwick CEng MIMechE, the former co-ordinator of the European Commission’s CIVITAS programme on sustainable urban mobility, was instrumental in planning the afternoon’s topic stations. The meeting had been publicised to STEPAL supporters, had also been advertised in the local press as open to all interested parties, and the Press was invited.

There were 5 stations-

  1. Traffic Congestion in the area – cause and effects. There are documented statistics which attest to a 2% annual increase of road traffic in the area due to the effects of ‘normal’ increase in numbers of commuters, shoppers and tourists. However this will be even further increased in future due to new housing developments which are part of the Western Extension of the current Local Plan (1000 houses), and plans by the university to increase the numbers of students. Another cause of increase is the significant growth in construction traffic through the town associated with many new developments which have been or may be given the go-ahead such as Craigtoun North, North Bank Farm, new flats in North Street, Feddinch Mains and the Fairmont Hotel. Methods of management of increases in traffic were used for discussion and views sought as to possible amelioration.

  2.  Public Transport – potential for increased use. Local bus routes were detailed with information on routes and frequencies. It is a feature of local transport movement that many residents take cars into town for shopping purposes. This needs to be discouraged and more use made of more environmentally-friendly solutions such as the extensive local bus network.

  3.  Safe Cycling and Walking. These methods of transport were promoted with details of cycle paths and walkways around the town. St Andrews is a small town and the ease of movement into and from the centre was shown on local large-scale maps. A local blind lady, Mrs Catherine Rowe, and her guide dog, Aysha, came along to present her perspective. Help for DIY cycle maintenance was on offer with a hands-on demonstration!

  4. A sustainable transport plan for the area. Dr Borthwick, as mentioned above, put forward ideas and recommendations from his extensive knowledge of similar situations from towns and cities in Europe. The traffic problems of the St Andrews area need a sustainable traffic plan to include all such movement in the future. Piece-meal solutions to traffic issues are not the answer. There must be a coherent, integrated and sustainable local traffic plan covering all forms of local traffic. For this, much more information is needed and statistical surveys are required to provide necessary data for analysis.

  5. StARLink – the St Andrews Rail Link Campaign. STEPAL invited Ms Jane Ann Liston of StARLink to join us and she came with brochures and maps to promote the future re-connection of St Andrews to the rail network. This proved a very popular area with all who attended.

There were maps to invite visitors to locate perceived congestion points, a series of photographs to match to traffic issues, a power-point display, and forms for feedback which saw suggestions ranging from a potential by-pass to avoid grid-lock in the town centre to central pedestrianisation and to greater sanctions for cycling and parking on pavements. These suggestions may form part of the focus of a future meeting on more detailed transport issues in the town.

As with the first meeting, thanks are due to Mr Arlen Pardoe for his IT and illustrative expertise for the various areas, and to Mr Bill Sangster for his organisation of the event.

The hospitality area was well patronised and became a locus for much discussion. It is very clear that there are major areas of concern to all locals on this topic and many ideas for future meetings were discussed as there are so many plans for developments in and around the town which will affect all of those who live in, work in and visit the town.

The next open meeting will take place in the autumn of 2016.

6th October 2016

An Open Meeting organised by STEPAL in Hope Park and Martyrs Church hall on Thursday 6th October 2016 at 7.30 on the subject of Green Belts.

The St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd (STEPAL) held a third, well-attended open meeting, this time on the topic of Green Belts. Mr Lindsay Matheson introduced the chair, Mr Willie Rennie MSP, who then introduced the speakers, Mr Duncan Campbell of the Association for the Protection of Rural
Scotland (APRS), and Miss Penny Uprichard, a local environmental campaigner, who each gave a talk on their areas of expertise. Mr Rennie said that he was delighted to have been asked to chair the meeting as a signed-up Pipeland supporter and commended STEPAL for reaching out to all to learn and question.

Mr Campbell’s talk was about the Edinburgh Green Belt in particular. He described the history of the Green Belt and showed maps of its change over time, culminating in great changes proposed due to increasing pressure for land, particularly for housing. Areas of high landscape quality within the city region had been identified but they and the area of the Green Belt, mainly Prime Agricultural Land, still surrounding the city were under enormous pressure as the city population grows, and planners face a considerable dilemma as the Scottish Government places great emphasis on economic growth and housing is required by people moving into the city to work.

Miss Uprichard gave a most comprehensive account of the St Andrews Green Belt from its proposal in the 1990s to its ultimate adoption in the 2012 Local Plan, pointing out its encirclement of the town being placed outside the so-called Western Extension, a development area of approximately 1000 new homes and a science park. Since then there have been several development applications for land within the designated Green Belt area and Miss Uprichard urged everyone to get involved and to fight to stop inappropriate development.

Questions were invited from the audience and covered other countries’ responses to city growth, sustainable development – especially regarding transport and economic development, involvement of communities in planning, provision of affordable housing and the current local government structure which does not seem to protect the landscape very well.

Jamie Macleod, a former Madras College head boy and current student at St Andrews University, gave the vote of thanks to Mr Rennie, Mr Campbell and Miss Uprichard, tea and coffee were served, and informal discussion continued.

Sandra Thomson, 7/10/16.


26th November 2017

  1. M. Jack welcomed a very good turnout to the meeting. There were very many STEPAL supporters along with a considerable number of interested others from several town groups with varied interests in planning issues. All were made most welcome not only to hear the substance of the meeting but also to take part in the discussion and enjoy the hospitality.

  2. S. Thomson gave updates on the two major current planning issues – the Western Extension and the new Madras College at Langlands.

    The Western Extension: Three public consultations had been held and STEPAL had attended and responded to all three. The Planning Application for the access road had been lodged and STEPAL intended to respond to this, highlighting the route of the proposed road across the North Haugh and the proposed Toucan crossing of the A91. It was made clear that STEPAL, while critical of the route and the crossing, was not objecting to the principle of a link from the A91 to the proposed site of the new Madras College. The North Haugh is not a statutory environmentally protected area – it is not even an SSSI – and therefore a route across it could not be objected to on environmental grounds. The value of some of the individual trees in the arboretum could be mentioned in individual objections to the Planning Application if so wished. The habitat issue was similarly described and attention was drawn to the Planning Application and the various mitigating methods proposed by the developers.

    The New Madras College: A brief history of the happenings during the time since the successful appeal of the Judicial Review (of the Pipeland Application) was described and it was pointed out that this was nearly two years before – a very long time for Fife Council to make headway in any progress regarding the new school. A single site was necessary and that and the fact that it should be at Langlands had been proposed and accepted. Some information had been given at consultations as to the layout of the site but detail awaited the official planning application. It had been said that the planning application would be in tandem with that of the access road for the Western Extension. (This has not happened and at the end of January 2018 the planning application for the new Madras College has not been lodged).

    At this point we were still awaiting the DPEA Reporter’s decision on the appeal regarding the extension to the Westport Bar/Hotel/Restaurant. (This has since been refused.)

  3. L. Matheson gave a resume of the financial position of STEPAL over the time from the success in the appeal of the Judicial Review. It was proposed and unanimously accepted by all STEPAL supporters present, confirming a previous resolution, that funds should be retained until such time as the building of the new school begins, after which there should be a further meeting of all directors, members and supporters to decide formally on the future of the funds.

    The meeting was adjourned and informal discussion was continued over refreshments.

    Many thanks are due to Arlen Pardoe for the power point production including maps and photographs to illustrate S Thomson’s contribution and for the excellent display boards of all relevant maps, photographs and documents, and for setting up all of these.

    S. Thomson. 1/18




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