Scottish Forestry is investigating claims of unlawful groundworks on the potential future site of Fife’s new learning campus after trees were cut down.
A planning application outlining the plans for the Dunfermline Community Learning Campus on the eastern edge of the town, north of the city’s Amazon depot and to the west of Fife Leisure Park, is currently being considered by Fife Council.
Site owner and applicant, Shepherd Offshore, is in the process of selling the land to the local authority, Fife College and housebuilders Bellway Homes and Persimmon Homes.
No decision has yet been made on whether the plans are acceptable in principle.
However, campaigners opposed to works close to the Halbeath site’s border with Calaismuir Woods have captured footage of unauthorised tree felling taking place on the south-west corner of the site, known as Axis Point.
In one of several videos shared on social media by a member of the Save the Calais Woods campaign group, chainsaws are clearly audible as the camera operator walks by the site.
Scottish Forestry has confirmed that no tree felling permit had been issued for the site and is investigating the circumstances of the works.
A spokesman for the regulator said: “We have been alerted to the felling works at Calaismuir last night [March 1] and can confirm that Scottish Forestry has not issued any felling permissions for this work.
“Our woodland officers have instructed the workers on site to stop any further felling whilst we fully investigate.”
Cutting down trees without a valid permit is an offence punishable by fines of up to £5000 per tree.
Fife Council has also opened an investigation into the felling.
Development service manager Alastair Hamilton said there is no statutory protection of the trees at the site, limiting the council’s powers and its responsibility.
He added: “Depending on the number of trees, a felling license may be required by Scottish Forestry.
“Anyone felling trees should also follow any wildlife legislation to make sure the trees are not home to any protected species or nesting birds at the time of felling.”
Fife College declined to comment, stating that Shepherd Offshore maintained responsibility for the site.
Shepherd Offshore has been contacted for comment.
By local democracy reporter Jon Brady