Evening Telegraph

Fears over local nature reserves and paths due to budget cuts

Stephen Morrison takes part in a Fife Coast & Countryside Trust beach clean up.

The management of nature reserves and country paths across Fife is being put at risk by challenging budget cuts, it has been claimed.

Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) has warned it may have to withdraw services from everywhere other than the region’s 14 award-winning beaches, the coastal path and the Eden Estuary Local Nature Reserve unless the savings are reinstated.

Stephen Morrison takes part in a Fife Coast & Countryside Trust beach clean up.

This means it would no longer be able to carry out duties at the Lomond Hills Regional Park, Birnie and Gaddon Lochs, Dalbeath Marsh, Coul Den and Craighall Den.

The charity said it would also not be in a position to help with core path works away from the coast, including the soon to be opened Fife Pilgrim Way.

In a letter to Fife Council co-leaders David Ross and David Alexander, trust chairman Stephen Carter said: “The failure to have appropriate arrangements in place will not only be an embarrassment at local and national level but also a blow to the aspirations to open up tourism in mid-Fife.”

The management fee given by Fife Council has been cut by £242,000 since 2015 and no decision has been taken on future budgets.

In his letter, Mr Carter said: “The resources available based on the current services fee are effectively adequate for delivering services along the Fife coast and no more.”

The news was met with alarm by Fife Council’s two opposition leaders. Conservative Dave Dempsey and Liberal Democrat Tim Brett, both criticised a lack of scrutiny around the budgets.

Andy MacLellan, community projects team manager, said no decisions on future financial support would be made before budgets were discussed with elected members.