Communities have called for more time to comment on controversial plans for one of the UK’s biggest opencast mining sites.

An action group set up to scrutinise a proposal for a gas power plant at the derelict Westfield site near Cardenden claim a lack of consultation has left them in the dark.

At a public meeting to discuss the application by Durham-based developer Hargreaves Services, the group asked for the statutory consultation to be extended beyond Wednesday’s deadline.

Communities already living in the shadow of the giant petrochemical complex at Mossmorran are concerned another power station would have serious implications for their health and the environment.

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell, who attended the meeting said: “There is a lot of concern at how quickly the whole process has moved forward.”

Hargreaves was granted planning permission in October for a green energy park and industrial estate, stating it has the potential to create up to 2,500 jobs.

Residents were shocked when, just a day later, the firm lodged plans for a power plant with 10 gas engines on the same site to provide huge quantities of energy for the national grid.

Hargreaves say the plant could help safeguard Britain’s energy independence.

Fife Council said the application had gone through the statutory process and all normal consultation protocols had been followed.

They said extending the deadline could result in the proposal failing to be determined in time, raising the potential for an expensive appeal.

Despite this, Mr Ruskell insisted consultation had not been adequate.

He said: “The masterplan was approved, then this, which wasn’t part of the original plan, came out of the blue.

“There is a feeling it has been incredibly rushed. The deadline for submissions on the gas turbine proposal is Wednesday and there were calls at the meeting for that deadline to be extended. People are completely in the dark.”

Lorna Bett from Benarty Community Forum, which organised the meeting, said people from several local communities had attended.

“It was a good tempered meeting but there are a lot of concerns and questions,” she said.

“People are worried because they don’t know enough about it.”

It is estimated the plant could produce up to 19.96 megawatts of energy, enough to power hundreds of homes. Developers say the natural gas engines are more environmentally friendly than fuel oils and would only run for short periods of time.



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