NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Oil leak Gartly primary school 'may not reopen'

Gartly School Image copyright Michael Traill
Image caption Gartly School has been closed since 2018

An Aberdeenshire primary school which has been closed for more than a year amid work to deal with an oil leak may not reopen.

Pupils from Gartly School were moved to another school about three miles away after the incident in December 2018.

Some children were said to have been left feeling ill after the leak and resulting strong smell.

A public meeting on Monday night heard the only way to reopen may be to partly demolish and rebuild the school.

The school - which opened in 1962 and was extended in 1970 - closed on 17 December 2018, due to what was described as a "heating problem".

The Gartly pupils were moved to Kennethmont School, but have since moved to Rhynie School, about four miles away. The nursery at the school near Huntly also relocated to Rhynie.

In May last year Aberdeenshire Council said it would demolish outbuildings and replace soil in order to reopen the school.

Community feedback

Parents who attended the meeting at Clatt Village Hall were told that partly demolishing and rebuilding the school could cost more than £870,000, on top of more than £450,000 already spent.

Another option being considered is to close the school completely.

Any such decision would need to involve the community, councillors and the Scottish government.

Head of education Vincent Docherty said: "Marr Area Committee has agreed we will report to them with an options appraisal update on the future of Gartly School before the end of March this year.

"A lot of work was done towards the end of last year to look at technical options for reinstating the school and only one of those - part demolition and rebuild - is feasible due to the nature of the contamination on the site."

'Safety and wellbeing'

He said other options were also being considered.

Mr Docherty explained: "While closure is a possibility, we are in the early stages of weighing up options. If closure was deemed to be the most appropriate route to take this would be subject to a statutory process involving the community, the Scottish government and elected members.

"There is a presumption against the closure of rural schools and we are committed to exploring all the options available to us."

He added: "The safety and wellbeing of children and staff has and will continue to be of paramount importance, and we aim to provide the best possible educational experiences for our young people at the same time as achieving best value for money and the best outcomes for our communities."

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