THE old Shell site in Ardrossan has been earmarked as a possible home for the new Ardrossan Academy, the Herald can exclusively reveal.

That’s despite the fact that the site remains toxic, some 30 years after the former refinery closed. But the site which sits near to the North Shore could be given the go-ahead within the next decade as plans for a new school edge closer.

There are already fears about contamination on the site, with parents and a teacher expressing concerns to he Herald.

Sources said that the site had been picked out as a good location with consultation said to be starting soon to find out the the views of locals.

North Ayrshire Council did not confirm that the site was one they were considering but Cunninghame North MSP, Kenneth Gibson, revealed that he had spoken about it earlier this month with a senior NAC figure.

He told the Herald: “I actually discussed this briefly with Karen Yeomans, Head of Service, Economy and Communities at NAC on November 2. “She said that no decision had been taken on a possible site for a new Ardrossan Academy. At least two sites will be considered, possibly one adjacent to the existing school, the other probably being the Shell site.

“Any potential site would have to go out to public consultation.”

Possible contamination and flood risks have been mooted previously in regards to the Shell site when planning applications were lodged for houses and an adjoining road between North Crescent Road and the harbourside in the town.

There have been suggestions that a layer of concrete or a similar substance could be placed on top of the land to allow building without fear of contamination.

Kenny Gibson added: “Decontamination has been carried out at the Shell site - following a long legal battle - and CHA have 70 new homes on part of it. “The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and NAC itself would no doubt work together to ensure no possibility of contamination should the site be chosen.

However, such a decision is likely to be taken some time in the future yet.”

One concerned parent said: “As a parent of a child who will be soon attending Ardrossan Academy, the possible contamination of land is worrying and I really hope that consultation and engagement is the number one priority.”

And a concerned secondary school teacher said that North Ayrshire Council was ‘guilty of wilful blindness’.

They told us: “It is sadly unsurprising to learn that NACs latest plan is to build a brand new school on old and contaminated land.

“This is a move which is totally attuned to their usual cost cutting when it comes to our young people’s education. With an underfunded inclusion policy creating chaos in the classrooms and beyond, teacher retention and recruitment in crisis, and the repeated reductions in additional support resources, the council are once more guilty of wilful blindness of the real challenges facing teachers in North Ayrshire.

“The recent move by a local SNP MSP to support bypassing the collective bargaining of the teachers unions does further damage to the idea that anyone at decision making level truly values teachers or values education.”

Ross Greer, Green MSP for West Scotland, said: “A new campus with state of the art facilities would be a welcome move. Whilst the contamination issues at the site, as well as the flood risks, need taken extremely seriously, leaving the site derelict and without decontamination work benefits no one. If the council can detail how they intend to decontaminate the site and prepare adequate flood defences, this could be an ideal development.”

The Herald first revealed the plans for a £32million new Ardrossan Academy back in February 2016 when the council had earmarked funds in their capital budget plan.

Just two years later it was announced that the plans would be delayed until 2025.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “Work on a new-build school to replace Ardr ossan Academy is currently scheduled to get under way in 2024-25.

“Discussions around the new-build school are at a very early stage. You can be assured that we will consult thoroughly with parents, pupils and all stakeholders before making any decisions regarding the location and various, other aspects of the new school.”