Response to Proposed TayPlan
STEPAL (St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited)
wishes to comment on the proposed Tayplan. Being a relatively new
organisation, STEPAL has not been able to comment at previous stages
of the TayPlan and our representations at this point are brief and
focused on the major environmental issues which affect St Andrews
and its surrounding area.
1. Transport Infrastructure and Carbon Emissions.
We believe that TayPlan should be more proactive in identifying ways
in which carbon and particulate emissions can be controlled and
reduced. The environmental and health impacts from vehicle emissions
are well established and are of such a serious nature they deserve a
particular focus in a strategic plan which deals with environmental
issues. Vehicle congestion in St Andrews is now a serious problem
and assessed to increase at a compound rate of approximately 2% per
annum. Certain Streets in St Andrews are now subject to unacceptable
levels of particulate emissions. In the view of STEPAL, such issues
require active management, and as the TayPlan sets the broad
objectives with which local plans are required to comply, leadership
is required at the Strategic Plan Level. While a renewed rail link
to St Andrews may not be practical, a light rail connection would be
affordable and much easier to implement as it would be able to
operate on streets as well as dedicated tracks. We consider that a
study to assess such a link between Leuchars and St Andrews should
be commissioned as part of the future work of the TayPlan team.
2. Protection of the Green Belt
St Andrews achieved a Green Belt in 2012 after many years of
campaigning by local groups. It is sad commentary that this hard-won
environmental asset is now under severe strain from developer
ambitions and even Fife Council is promoting a major school building
in a Green Belt location, which if achieved is acknowledged by the
Council and SNH as being seriously damaging to the landscape setting
of the town. St Andrews is a major destination for both UK and
overseas visitors and receives extensive national and international
TV and other media exposure especially during the Open and other
major golf events held in the town and the character of the town
needs to be conserved.
The possibility of erosion of the Green Belt so soon after its
designation does not auger well for the future. It is disappointing
that TayPlan has been silent on the issue of protecting the Green
Belt and that the policies which are supposed to protect it are so
weak that they are capable of being exploited for reasons of
expediency rather than being subject to decisions informed by
sensible and sustainable land use assessments. This is a policy area
which, if the Tayplan is to provide a credible vision for the
future, needs to set policies, procedures and standards for the
protection of the environment rather than the current situation
where it is nominally responsible for Green Belt, but takes no
active part in commenting on planning applications which would erode
it. The current practice if it was to remain unchanged could
progressively remove considerable areas of designated Green Belt,
ultimately making the remainder untenable by degrees and rendering
the policy decision to establish it redundant.
Sandra Thomson, Secretary, STEPAL.
Mary Jack, Chairperson, STEPAL
Lindsay Matheson, Treasurer, STEPAL.
St Andrews 3 July 2015