Community hits back at ‘state of the art’ school threat

Newmill’s biomass boiler – waste.

Parents at one of the Moray primary schools scheduled for closure under the recommendations of the Sustainable Education Review have hit back at the possible waste of a “model for rural development”.

Newmill is one of several rural primary schools that consultants say should be either closed or merged in the most drastic changes ever made to the educational estate in Moray.

The Caledonian Economics recommendations will not be decided until next month, but already parent groups from throughout the region are lining up to protest against the possible closure of their schools.

Now members of the Newmill community have hit back at the ‘super campus’ idea brought forward by consultants, pointing to a £150,000 investment four years ago that led to the school and community hall being heated by a state-of-the-art biomass boiler put in place by a community interest company.

As a result Newmill Primary currently consumes heating energy at over three-quarters lower than the average in the region.

“Newmill is economic, environmentally friendly and at the heart of a community hub and so a model for rural development,” the director of community interest company Newmill Renewables, Rod Lovie, said.

He added: “We feel frustrated that there is not a lot of stuff in that report that they need to be aware of, and we have a month to show them what they are missing.

“It just does not make any sense – it currently seems that the authors of the review are looking at numbers and maps rather than the reality of it.”

However, the leader of Moray Council, Alan Wright, insisted that it was not a case of “all bets being off” for any recommendations in the consultancy report.

He said: “There is no automatic way to do this and it is not a case of all bets being off – there is nothing at this time which is decided.

“But there is not anything a school can do in the meantime by saying ‘we are doing this, so we can’t be closed’.”

Meanwhile parents concerned about the threat to another primary school, Anderson’s in Forres, are to hold a meeting at the school on Wednesday to discuss the threat to all rural schools in the region. The meeting will be held at 6.30pm.

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