Dive Instructors Call For Support to Create Scottish Version of NDAC
A group of Scottish divers is asking members of the public to sign a petition preventing the closure for development of Prestonhill Quarry, a popular inland dive site located in Inverkeithing, Fife.
The campaign is being led by local diver Craig Burles, a PADI IDC Staff Instructor who, together with business partner and fellow instructor Andrew Murray, had hoped to build a dive centre to rival the National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC) in Chepstow, England. The new dive centre was to be a central component of a joint venture with a local developer, with whom Burles and Murray had been in discussion since 2016.
'Probably every diver in Scotland's central belt uses Prestonhill Quarry from time to time,' Mr Burles told DIVE. 'From Forfar to Dunbar to Kilmarnock and Largs, and a few techies and cave divers from further afield come regularly to practice their drills and skills. It's used by most dive instructors in the area,' he said. 'I have taught over 100 people to dive there, and a good few hundred had their first dive in the quarry.'
The original plans for the quarry's development included the construction of a PADI Career Development Centre as part of a project which would also include landscaping the area and construction of 'sympathetic' nearby housing. In return, the dive centre would help to improve the safety and security of the quarry, following three fatalities in the quarry – including that of a female scuba diver – between 2014 and 2017.
In March 2020, however, the project was transferred to a new developer who has submitted plans to fill in the quarry 'partially or wholly' and build 180 new houses, but without a dive centre. Despite having been in talks with the new developer, Burles and the local dive community only became aware of the new plans through a local newspaper article in October.
Together with other divers and members of the local community, Burles is trying to raise awareness of the project and preserve Prestonhill quarry and the local environment for the use of 'police dive teams, fire and rescue, dog walkers, divers, dive schools, fishermen, kayaking, open water swimming and all other responsible leisure activities.' Burles is also keen to point out that the quarry and the local area is an important habitat for an 'astronomical amount of wildlife', including frogs, newts, pike, perch, deer, bats and waterfowl.
'Naturally, realising the scale of destruction to the area I started a petition,' said Burles, 'so we now have a dedicated team of campaigners to preserve this beauty spot and save our only inland dive site this region of Scotland.'
The petition to preserve Prestonhill Quarry can be found at: www.change.org/p/fife-council-protect-prestonhill-quarry-and-greenspaces-from-development