THE leader of North Ayrshire Council has pledged that he would “not accept anything less” than an assurance that the proposed site of a new school and community campus in Ardrossan will be completely safe and suitable for development.

Plans were submitted in November for the £150 million regeneration of the North Shore land which would include a new campus for Ardrossan Academy and Winton Primary School, around 150 houses and an upgraded coastal path.

Remediation works to clear the former Shell Oil grounds are due to begin this spring - and although the council has said the positive development of the site will make a “significant contribution to the physical regeneration of Ardrossan”, fears have been raised over potential contaminants and toxic materials left over.

The 30 acre brownfield site was previously used to produce bitumen and for the handling of crude oil, fuel oils and aviation fuel. It was decommissioned between 1986 and 1989 and has lain vacant for more than three decades since.

Council leader Joe Cullinane says the proposed site of the new school campus will be cleared of any contaminants before work beginsThe North Shore site where the campus will be built

At a virtual council meeting held last week, independent councillor Ronnie McNicol pressed NAC leader Joe Cullinane for a guarantee over the site’s safety.

Councillor McNicol said: “Will the leader of the council accept anything less than a guarantee that the site has been 100 per cent cleared of the toxic contaminants we know are in the soil before embarking on building schools and a leisure facility?”

Cllr Cullinane replied: “Extensive site investigations have been undertaken, and a remediation strategy agreed with the Scottish Government’s environmental regulator SEPA.

READ MORE: Remediation work for Ardrossan North Shore regeneration could begin in spring

“The development of former industrial sites is relatively common in the West of Scotland and is a priority of the Scottish Government through their vacant and derelict land task force.

“The proposed works will ensure that the contaminants which have been present in the site are removed or appropriately treated, and that the site ground conditions are suitable for the proposed use. I would not accept anything less than this.”

Disputing his colleague’s “scaremongering”, the council leader later questioned Cllr McNicol’s ability to participate in the planning committee when it met to determine the application given that he had “already pre-judged it”.