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November 19, 2008

A CLEAR vision for Buckhaven and Denbeath

It started with a small group of local folk determined to make things better. More often than not, that’s how community action begins. When the group got together last summer, their first priorities were the amount of litter and badly maintained public space. In a short space of time CLEAR have taken on a much wider range of environmental actions across two of Fife’s most disadvantaged areas

CLEAR (Community-Led Environmental Action for Regeneration) – Buckhaven & Denbeath

CLEAR is a voluntary group of local residents from Buckhaven & Denbeath organising environmental improvements to help build pride in our town.

CLEAR aims to promote visible impovements in the public space, especially greenspace, to encourage regeneration in this deprived and neglected community

Buckhaven is one of the most deprived areas (according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation). Despite its great location, the urban environment has not received the investment which has been channelled into other towns across Fife. CLEAR wants to work with others to address that gap

CLEAR was formally established in mid 2007 to address the issues of public space and amenity in the rather down-at-heel regeneration areas, Buckhaven & Denbeath, which lie in the lowest reaches of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. Although there is now evidence that some public regeneration investment will begin to be targeted at our community, we are convinced that the need to improve the amenity, access and enjoyment and overall pride of the community in terms of its public face and open spaces will remain.

CLEAR acts in the following ways

• LITTER clear-ups and RECYCLING (both routine daily clearing by individuals as well as a 2 hours campaign each month). an estimated 40% is recycled.

• PLANTING – especially spring bulbs and trees.

• MONITORING – reporting misuse of parks (especially trail/quad bikes) and council services

• ADVOCACY and Networking – meetings with Council and other actors, formal submissions to various relevant consultations, press liaison, lobbying

Early impact

Some positives are already apparent. The coastal path between Buckhaven-East Wemyss is now, indisputably, the most litter-free in the country. Press relations have enabled more local focus on issues of concern. Fife Council local representatives have been supportive and helpful. We feel we’ve also advanced the practical sciences of litter collection (much more complex and seasonal than most beginners would suspect) and what we term `environmental aerobics’ the wonderful combination of physical exercise and fresh air that is part of our community efforts

CLEAR still works with a limited volunteer base (up to 10) so mobilising additional interest in the area presents a major challenge. Two small grant applications (Seedcorn and Floral Enhancement) both to Fife Council have been successful to date so we are confident of being able to obtain more. We also obtain donations of plants from individuals.

In the longer term we wish to maintain this core programme and explore ways of expanding, including partnering development of other open spaces. For example, recent investment in coastal protection near old Buckhaven Harbour bring the prospects of developing a regional coastal park or other improved green space facility for both amenity as well as leisure use.

Given limited resources and to try and focus our efforts and energies, CLEAR identified six `zones’ across Buckhaven on which we plan to focus our energies in terms of direct work such as planting, litter clearance.

Forthcoming events

• NEXT CLEAR Monthly meeting – 18 November 2008

• Shrub & Bulb Planting Bank Corner – 23 November 2008

• Tree Planting Coastal Path – 14 December 2008

• CLEAR December Monthly Meeting – 16 December 2008

• Spring Bulb Planting Tollpark area, with Kinetic – 18 January 2009

• CLEAR AGM – 20 January 2009

Any residents of Buckhaven and Denbeath interested in helping to improve their environment should get in touch with CLEAR on 01592-713078, at and/or attend our next meeting. All are welcome.