Wilding our Parks case study - Fife report
Dunfermline river restoration creates a green corridor
Site: Lyne Burn along Rex Park, Lyne Burn Park and Touch neighbourhood network
Location: 56.067920, -3.438088
Site type: Public parks and gardens
Secondary type: Amenity greenspace
Management responsibility: Fife Council
Naturalisation types: Watercourse restoration, green network, grassland naturalisation
Project partners: Fife Council, SEPA, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, Dunfermline Grow and Play
- Lyne Burn Green Network information
- Fife Council Grounds Maintenance Service consultation on managing grassland in a new way 2020.
- Touch Community Action Plan 2018 – 2023
Tags/Themes: Watercourse naturalisation, Grassland naturalisation, Native wildflower meadow, Public parks and gardens, Amenity greenspace, Open Space Strategy, Outdoor learning, Citizen science
The Lyne Burn is a river restoration and greenspace improvement initiative, which has created a green corridor for Dunfermline, delivering environmental and social benefits.
The Lyne Burn river restoration and greenspace improvement project was a £1.5million capital project which has created a green corridor for Dunfermline. This 2.2km stretch of urban greenspace, following the Lyne Burn, stretches from the residential neighbourhood of Touch south-west through Lyne Burn Park to Rex Park. The Lyne Burn’s course was piped and buried with soil and stone in Lyne Burn Park during the development of houses at Abbeyfield in the 1960/70s. The burn is still buried there and the land above is public greenspace. In Rex Park, 453m of the burn’s length has been restored and naturalised.
Drivers for naturalisation
Fife Council’s first Open Space Strategy in 2011 identified this project as a priority.
- SEPA classified the Lyne Burn as a ‘heavily modified watercourse’. The EC Water Framework Directive (2000) provided the legal framework for protecting the water environment, which enabled SEPA to identify and prioritise the Lyne Burn for improvement in the 2nd River Basin Management Plan.
- Larger and more frequent river spates were damaging the concrete walls and increasing the risk of flooding, and so this project addresses flood risk management and climate change mitigation.
- Touch and Abbeyfield are both areas of multiple deprivation; most residents in Touch live in flats, without gardens. Access to quality greenspace is important to these residents and there was scope to improve quality and access.
- The Touch Community Action Plan prioritised improving this greenspace and reviving the derelict garden in Touch.
- Community Placemaking around Rex Park and Lyne Burn in 2016 as part of the greenspace scotland ‘Tackling litter by repurposing greenspaces’ programme, identified elements of the environmental improvement work.
What has been delivered?
The project started in 2011 and civil engineering works to naturalise the burn were completed in February 2022. A condition of SEPA funding was that Fife Council led on a greenspace and biodiversity improvement project along the green corridor.
- 453m of watercourse has been restored. Civil engineering works removed the original linear concrete channel. The bed of the burn was widened, and a naturalised meander course created to slow the water down at times of high rainfall, and to allow the water to spread out rather than flood areas downstream within Dunfermline. Feasibility work found that the buried section of watercourse in Lyne Burn Park was too costly to remediate, mostly because of the amount of material that would need to be moved.
- Coir matting was used along restored riverbanks, with wildflower seed (Scotia Seeds seed mix) underneath.
- Areas of short grass amenity management were changed to long grass management, in line with the Fife-wide programme, with arisings being transported to Fife Council’s anaerobic digester.
- Community planting of native trees, shrubs and wildflower meadows to create new habitats
- A community tree planting programme co-ordinated by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Conservation Officer included planting 1,000 willows, grown by a local resident, along the restored burn.
- Touch Community Garden has been rejuvenated by volunteers.
- New cyclepath created
How was it done and by whom?
The project is a partnership between Fife Council, SEPA, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust and the local community.
- SEPA contributed £1million towards capital works from its Water Environment Fund, to improve the river habitat within the greenspace corridor. It undertook the hydro-morphological study to inform the river restoration preparatory studies; and contributed engineering fees and staff time. The management contract associated with the funding runs to 2024.
- Fife Council contracted a civil engineering firm to undertake the watercourse works. Council Transport Engineers were also involved.
- Landscape Architects Urban Pioneers produced the greenspace masterplan and costings.
- The Council delivered the greenspace and biodiversity improvement project along the green corridor, funded through Fife Council budgets (£300,000) and the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund (£200,000). The greenspace and community engagement phase will finish in March 2024.
- Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) undertook initial and ongoing community engagement. This encompasses working with community groups and schools, running events and nature-based activities alongside contributing to the website and social media.
- Dunfermline Play and Grow are a voluntary community group that have rejuvenated Touch Community Garden as part of the green corridor improvements, to provide food growing, volunteering and outdoor learning activities.
- Community citizen science projects, like bird and butterfly surveys, are ongoing, led by the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Conservation Officers, and by Dunfermline Grow and Play through their outdoor play schemes and weekly nature club.
Cost of the project
The project cost more than £1.5million excluding staffing, SEPA technical feasibility reports and community volunteer time. £1million was contributed by SEPA towards the river restoration works, with the associated greenspace and biodiversity improvements costing about £500,000.
Communication and engagement
Community engagement at the start, and throughout the project, was a priority. Conservation Officers employed by the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust included the project in their ongoing community engagement programme.
Walking and minibus tours for elected members proved useful in gaining their understanding and support.
The works along the burn have been positively received and community resistance has been limited to a few vocal people, who reacted to long grass management in a specific area.
Benefits from the project
A more naturalised green corridor has been created, with ongoing collaboration between partners, the council and community.
Council staff report local citizens are taking more pride in their area, as evidenced through less litter, volunteer planting sessions, a children’s outdoor summer activity playscheme, community gardening and the nature club.
The Greenspace Officer noted that having a strategic approach transforms a place, not just a waterway:
“This initiative shows that having an Open Space Strategy can bring a focus to positively changing places. It was the starting point, and has brought investment, staff and a vision to improve this part of Dunfermline both environmentally and socially”
Kevin O’Kane, Greenspace Officer, Fife Council
Issues and challenges
Challenges came from the complexity and high cost of the river restoration elements. Setting clear deadlines for each decision and approval stage was important to help keep all partners on track.
Learning and advice
Ensuring the project is a priority in all relevant strategies is important and getting the right skills on board from the start is vital. Although there is now less local authority staff time to champion such projects than when this project started, it is still important to prioritise the time to create partnership teams and to collaborate over the long timescales required.
Fife Council is currently working with SEPA and the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust on two other river projects – River Leven, Methil and Leven; and Back Burn, Glenrothes; using experience gained at Lyne Burn.
Funds are being sought to deliver the community’s plans for allotments, an orchard and a community garden in Lyne Burn Park.
Work has started on Fife Council’s updated Open Space Strategy.
Kevin O’Kane, Greenspace Officer, Community and Neighbourhoods Service, Fife Council
Local Development Plan: The Lyne Burn is a strategic green network asset and required improving to comply with the designation.
Fife Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP): The initiative is not specifically included in the LBAP but it contributes to actions under restoration of watercourses, involving community in creating wildflower and pollinator-friendly meadow in suitable urban greenspace, new orchards and edible spaces; and increased habitat connectivity in the urban environment.
Transforming Rex Park and the Lyne Burn Greenspace report: Part of greenspace scotland’s ‘Tackling litter by repurposing greenspaces’ programme in 2016, supported by Zero Waste Scotland, involved community participation in proposing improvements to Rex Park and Lyne Burn
Dunfermline Public Park Climate Change Park Report 2013 (greenspace scotland, Central Dunfermline Community Council, Fife Council): Page 16 describes how water flowing into Dunfermline Public Park and coming from Rex Park needs to be addressed.