SWATHES of Fife’s open spaces and grasslands are set to be maintained just once a year under a new grounds maintenance plan agreed across the Kingdom.

Fife Council’s new grassland strategy will cut back on maintenance of nearly 250 acres of parkland — around seven percent of all public green space.

It will see a minority of spaces across nearly every council ward cut just once a year in the autumn, instead of being “intensively” cut in the summer months.

Pathways will be cut through the affected areas to promote exercise, and invasive weed species will still be removed throughout the year.

Members of the public were consulted on the plans last year, amidst cynical accusations of cost-cutting.

However, council environment bosses say the reduction for some spaces will encourage biodiversity, connect locals with nature and cut 21 tonnes of CO2 emissions across Fife every year due to the reduction in the use of grass-cutting vehicles and machinery.

It will also free up 1,088 hours of work time each year, or around 30 people, that can be diverted to other green space maintenance tasks.

Ken Gourlay, Fife Council’s head of environment, says that “rewilding” a minority of Fife’s green spaces will create havens of biodiversity for dwindling animal populations,

In his report to Fife’s area committees, Gourlay said: “We know the UK has lost 97 per cent of its flower-rich grassland over the past 70 years. This has resulted in a drastic decline of around two thirds of pollinating insects.

“Fife is the most heavily cultivated region in Scotland so we can make a difference and give our wildlife more of a chance by changing the way we manage our urban green spaces.

“These proposals are an opportunity to counter-act these declines.”

Proposals for all 22 council wards were presented to the Kingdom’s area committees for approval, and all but six were approved.

A handful of areas where no agreement could be reached on the new plans, such as Rosyth, West Fife and Lochgelly, will continue being maintained as before.