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.

Proposed development at Pipeland Farm

Press Release - August 12 2014

The St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd. (STEPAL) has been set up by three former senior teachers of Madras College to protect the environment of St Andrews and North East Fife. It has lodged a Judicial Review in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, challenging Fife Council’s decision-making process in granting Planning Permission in Principle for a new school at Pipeland Farm on the southern edge of St Andrews.

STEPAL supports the proposal for a much-needed new school, but believes the Council's decision-making process failed to pay proper regard to material planning considerations and unfairly excluded an alternative site, which provides a better solution for future pupils and will be infinitely less damaging to the environment.

In a Judicial Review, the court reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body, and to take such action in the Court of Session is an expensive procedure. However, through private donations STEPAL has already raised nearly one-third of the funds which it estimates will be needed for the process. It believes that the Pipeland Farm site has considerable inherent flaws and hopes that those who are opposed to the proposal - particularly those who have already objected to the planning application – will support this action and make a contribution to the costs.

Sandra Thomson, Secretary - STEPAL



Press Release - 3 November 2014

For the attention of the editor, The St Andrews Citizen and Fife Herald Newspapers

Dear sir,

I wish to submit the following statement for publication. I should be grateful if it might be published in both the St Andrews Citizen and the Fife Herald newspapers as a large part of the Madras College pupil body resides in the distribution area of the Fife Herald:
Press statement to the Citizen from the St Andrews Environmental Association Ltd (STEPAL)

The directors of the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association (STEPAL) write to correct some factual errors in the article in the Citizen of 31st October, “Trust funds Madras legal bill”. Firstly, the headline is highly misleading. Along with other donors the Preservation Trust has made a contribution to STEPAL’s current action in taking the Pipeland proposal to a judicial review. While STEPAL is appreciative of this support from a body which has such experience in planning and its impact on the long-term welfare of the community, it is equally appreciative of the very wide support that our campaign may claim from over 100 other individual donors, whose contributions range from £5 to £2000. Secondly, the wholly speculative notion reported from the group called “Parent Voice” that STEPAL was set up to protect the assets of the Preservation Trust is simply untrue. We have our own unique objectives, identity and constitution. Long after the ill-judged Pipeland scheme has been put to rest and a suitable replacement Madras College built we intend to be continuing to serve the environmental interests of this community. Thirdly, your own reporter repeats the erroneous statement, already corrected several times, that STEPAL’s legal move “has already delayed work on the new Madras by six months”. It is perfectly clear that the delays in the Pipeland proposal are wholly down to the planning and not the legal issues that have arisen.

Sandra Thomson, Secretary - STEPAL



Press Release - 3 November 2014

For the attention of the editor, The Courier Newspaper.

Dear sir,

I wish to submit the following statement for publication:
Press-statement to the Courier from the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association (STEPAL)

The directors of the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association (STEPAL) wish to correct some recent errors in Courier reports about the proposed Pipeland scheme. Firstly, in last Friday’s issue (“Funds claim in Pipeland plan fight”) you quote the new Parent Voice spokesperson as stating that “the Preservation Trust are (sic) funding the legal action against the new school”. This is not an accurate statement; the Preservation Trust is one of over 100 donors to STEPAL’s current campaign against Pipeland. Secondly, the spokesperson goes on to say that “this contribution may well make them (sic) the single largest backer of STEPAL”. Again not true, since others among the 100-plus donors have contributed an equivalent sum. STEPAL warmly applauds the Preservation Trust for seeing fit to support the action that may lead to judicial review; after all the Trust shares STEPAL’s commitment to good planning and good stewardship of the environment we have inherited. We therefore utterly reject the third falsehood, that somehow STEPAL is to be seen as a “disposable front to prevent those actually behind the judicial review being held liable for the recovery of legal costs should they lose”. STEPAL has its own identity, its own constitution, its own directors (none of whom are trustees or even members of the Preservation Trust), its own membership and its own view of how to make positive contributions both to protecting the environment and to providing a suitable solution to a long-standing educational need. The spokesperson, lastly, “implored” those challenging the Pipeland proposal in the courts to drop their “futile challenge”. He might like to note that every objector to Pipeland was informed by Fife Council that if they did not agree with its decision to approve the granting of planning in principle they could take their disagreement to judicial review. He should thus understand that STEPAL’s action represents the very considerable opposition in this community to the Pipeland proposal. There were over 300 individuals and groups who wrote considered, informed and compelling objections to this ill-judged scheme. As to whether the legal action is “futile”, perhaps we should leave a decision on that to the judge.

Your article of Saturday 1st November, featuring Councillor Poole’s criticism of the Preservation Trust is one that we feel readers should judge for themselves. Any attempt by STEPAL to make sense of this diatribe would give it a credibility it does not deserve. We do not feel, however, that Councillor Poole’s unguarded words against the Preservation Trust are remotely merited or would be supported by most right-thinking local citizens.

Sandra Thomson, Secretary - STEPAL



Press Release - 5 November 2014

Press Statement following the PEO Hearing in the Court of Session, Edinburgh, Tuesday 4th November 2014

Following a hearing in the Court of Session, the Directors of The St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd. (STEPAL) have withdrawn their application for the Protected Expenses Order (PEO) as Fife Council has agreed to a two day (rather than 3 day) hearing in December and to limit its costs.
This will enable STEPAL to proceed with its Petition for a Judicial Review.

Sandra Thomson, Secretary - STEPAL



Press Release - August 2016

On Tuesday 16th August the Executive Committee of Fife Council was asked to agree criteria that the Education Authority has concluded are required to test any available site options for a future Madras College as well as sites for any future school developments. They are also to be asked to agree the reassessment of the original site and any other sites which have since come forward in accordance with these criteria.

The Executive Committee was asked to note that the Pipeland  planning application is being progressed while promising a that the there will be wide public  participation in an open and transparent process  for assessing all currently identified and new sites which have since come forward, in accordance with the proposed criteria.

STEPAL considers that this is a paradoxical and untenable position for the Council to adopt.



Supporters Information - January 2017

As we embark on the New Year, the time seems right to review progress in our campaign to save the St Andrews Green Belt from inappropriate development.

Until recently, Fife Council was still hoping to pursue their Pipeland school planning application. They proposed in their new local plan that Pipeland should be excluded from the Green Belt, thus allowing them to build the school at Pipeland by avoiding the protection provided by its Green Belt status. The plan was subject to an examination by government reporters for the DPEA (the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division) who consulted objectors to this proposal, including STEPAL. As a result, in their report on the FIFEplan in November last, they reversed Fife Council’s proposal to remove Pipeland from the Green Belt, and restated this area’s importance to the environment and landscape setting of the town. They emphasised that the new Madras College requires an urban setting, and that the process of alternative site assessment required by the Court Judgement should be followed. They also turned down the proposal that the Madras College building in South Street should be developed for commercial, hotel or housing use and reinstated its education designation.
At the Council Executive Meeting on 13th December when a paper, a ‘Madras College Update’ was presented which concluded that 4 sites were to be further assessed – Kilrymont, Langlands A, Craigtoun Road and Strathkinness High Road – it was announced that Pipeland was no longer being considered as it did not meet the ‘Education Criteria Assessment’, a table of criteria drawn up by Fife Council.

The result of this is that Fife Council is to withdraw the planning application for a school at Pipeland and has now identified four possible sites on the western edge of the town. As reported in the press, discussions have been initiated with the University regarding a site for the school on University land and it has been stated by the university that Madras South Street is to be safeguarded as an educational resource.

A school located in or near the area to be developed for new housing, on the western approaches to St Andrews provides possibilities for linkages with the university. Such a site, well located for the majority of pupils and accessible from the A91, makes both environmental and educational sense. This is undoubtedly a win-win situation.

We plan to hold a supporters’ meeting soon, when the results of these developments are clearer. In the meantime, we wish Fife Council and the University good speed in their discussions.

We would also take this opportunity to thank you as a STEPAL supporter for your steadfast support which has been so vital in helping to take forward a better outcome for Madras pupils, the community as a whole and the environment of the town.



Contact Details:

Association Chairman
Association Secretary
Association Treasurer


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