FURIOUS councillors have slammed the decision to build a new superschool on contaminated land.

Plans to build the new Ardrossan Campus on North Shore were approved at Full Council meeting last week - despite NAC Chief Executive Craig Hatton admitting: “Clearly the site is contaminated. We’re not hiding that.”

The area was used for production of bitumen and the handling of crude and fuel oils and aviation fuel between the 1920s and 1970s. A report detected high levels of arsenic, copper and zinc among other toxins are still present on the 32 acre site.

The plans sparked furious debate from councillors with politicians  submitting multiple amendments to the original motion. 

Ronnie McNicol said NAC were “holding a gun” to the heads of councillors and feared children were being put in danger by building on the site.

He said: “This site is not fit for purpose. £24.4million (funding from the Scottish Government) to build on this site. Is this a case of putting money before the health of out children? We can’t even grow potatoes on that site yet we can grow our primary school children on that site.

“There’s a site across the road from the current Ardrossan Academy and there would be no problem whatsoever.

“We are holding out for money for a new site and they are holding a gun to our heads.”

Also opposing the location, Councillor Robert Barr said: “I am not prepared to risk any child’s health on this site. It’s the children who will suffer in the long term. I want no part of it.”

John Sweeney also waded in and accused the council of “emotional blackmail”.

He said: “I believe it’s emotional blackmail. The removal of the swimming pool at Harvies will be to the detriment of Stevenson residents. We have disabled people who are paying £3-£4 each way just now and it will now be £10 each way to get to Ardrossan.”

However Council Leader Joe Cullinane blasted the comments regarding contamination as “irresponsible” and said the land would be perfectly safe before any building work commenced.

He said: “The behaviour and comments today in support of Councillor McNicol are extremely irresponsible. We have experts issuing a report yet people off the street are telling us it’s a danger on the site and not taking account of the views of those experts.

“What’s even worse is that it would absolutely sink the whole campus project stone dead. The kids currently gong to Ardrossan Academy and those going in the future would have no viable proposal to replace that school and that is equally irresponsible as those comments about the contaminated land.”

Councillor Alex Gallagher added: “Sites are decontaminated every day and buildings are built on them.”

The majority of North Ayrshire councillors backed a proposal to build the £62 million school campus at North Shore and to incorporate a swimming pool - spelling the eventual closure of Harvies pool.

But council leader Joe Cullinane said the gym  and ice rink at the Auchenharvie Leisure Centre would stay open and efforts would be made to look at community ownership of the building.  

The school campus would also include Winton Primary, a library and  accommodation for Health and Social Care Partnership staff.

His final motion, which was passed by a majority, said a dedicated community development officer would be recruited for Stevenston. Officials will look at the option of community ownership of the building.

Following amendments by the SNP the motion instructed officials to provide information to all councillors in the school catchment area and look at creating an energy efficient campus.

Councillors John Sweeney and Jimmy Miller called for the Auchenharvie swimming pool to be refurbished. Their amendment was rejected.

The Scottish Government will fund the school campus along with the council and a public consultation will now get underway.