THE Scottish Government's Environment Minister is hoping that a meeting with the landowner involved can see the terrible mess at Lathalmond cleared in the very near future.

This follows a question tabled in the Scottish Parliament by Alex Rowley, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, about the continuing problem of tonnes of old carpets and other debris causing an eyesore on the outskirts of Kelty.

Mr Rowley asked: "I would to ask the Scottish Government, in light of public authorities not taking the necessary action to clear waste from the M90 Commerce Park at Lathalmond, what action it can take to address local residents’ environmental concerns."

The Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, said: "Responsibility for the site rests with the landowner, which is Trans-Britannia Properties Ltd.

"Following further correspondence from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the landowner has now agreed to meet SEPA and Fife Council to discuss site clearance options. That might be considered to be a small step forward, but it is a very important one.

"SEPA continues to monitor the site and is content that it is not currently posing a risk to the environment or to human health. Therefore, the focus for the moment remains on working collaboratively with the landowner and other relevant parties, including Fife Council, to secure a positive outcome".

Alex Rowley responded: "When I met SEPA six to eight months ago, it said then that it was due to have a meeting with representatives of the landowner, so not a lot of progress has been made. "More than 7,000 tonnes of carpets and plasterboard, the majority of which came from local authorities and other public authorities across Scotland, were dumped on the site.

"Surely the Government cannot allow that to continue year after year. It is an environmental disaster for which nobody seems to be willing to take any responsibility. Will the minister agree to meet me on the site to look at what can be done to address the issue?"

Mairi Gougeon countered: "I completely understand Alex Rowley’s concern and frustration. "The issue has been on-going for a long time, which is why the meeting that has been secured will be a positive step forward. I am happy to meet him to discuss the matter, and to discuss how more progress can be made. "It is very much the landowner’s responsibility to deal with the issue, which is why we are working with the landowner to ensure that it is dealt with as soon as possible".

Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP) backed Mr Rowley: "It does not seem to be fair that the local community and residents have to put up with such an eyesore. Why has the Scottish Government, or the local authority, not simply cleared the site and sorted out later who is responsible?"

Mairi Gougeon responded: "Again, I say that I completely understand the concern and frustration, especially because the situation has been going on for so long, and because people who live in the area are having to see and put up with the problem. "We believe inherently that it should not be up to the public to pay for something that is the landowner’s responsibility. That is why we are determined to pursue all possible avenues for the landowner to take appropriate action first".