Landscape architect Charles Jencks has condemned the decision to scrap plans to turn a former open-cast mine in Scotland into a land art project, branding the move ‘sad and regrettable’
The huge, half-built Kelty scheme at the former St Ninian’s open-cast mine was designed to turn the industrial brownfield site into a new tourist attraction based on Scotland’s cultural contribution to the world.
The project was first thought up in 2003 when the site was managed by Scottish coal and was originally due complete in 2012. The scheme hit the buffers when the Scottish Coal went into administration in April 2013. However Fife council managed to reach an agreement with the new operator Hargreaves to licence the extraction of the remaining coal and finish the restoration.
But Fife Council has confirmed that the project will now not be finished, though current elements which are on site will be kept and maintained.
Jencks, the architectural historian and world-renowned designer of the project, said: ‘The end to the Scottish World Project at Kelty is very sad and most regrettable.
‘The Americas were half constructed when Scottish Coal went broke; and then the clean-up was completely driven by whatever was pragmatic; and a contract between the council and Hargreaves.
‘This is a great pity, but if scrap is still available, and the will is there, someday The Scottish World Project could be completed, because the potentials are enormous.’
Jencks took some of his inspiration for the land art project from a book by author Billy Kay The Scottish Enlightenment, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, which highilghted Scotland’s cultural contribution abroad in the modern era.
‘I started in 2003 with design based on the Scottish diaspora, how the Scots went around the world to the four continents, settled, and then brought their culture, hard-work, inventiveness and Enlightenment to Europe, to the Americas, to Australia and New Zealand, and to China and India (to mention some of the key areas), he added.
‘The European continent is there to see by the M90 – primitive, sublime in scale, and with the beautiful parts of coal machinery acting as a cosmic avenue focussing on an ancient volcano.’
Speaking to the Dunfermline Press Malcolm Spaven, chair of the Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance said: ‘What has happened is disgraceful and it cannot be allowed to happen again. There has to be more transparency.
‘The only way to stop this continued contempt for democracy and the environment is for communities to demand full transparency of all dealings between councils and coal operators.’