Decision Case Study: United Kingdom, Mossmorran-Braefoot Bay

Economic, environmental and safety considerations inevitably arise in siting decisions for any large scale energy, chemical handling or production facility. Ths report represents a review of selected aspects of the decision and approval process involved in the siting of liquefied energy gas facilities at Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay in Fife, Scotland.

Consideration is given to the potential hazard (health and safety), environmental and economic impacts of these facilities, as perceived by the different parties involved in the decision process, against a background of the statutory decision procedures that were followed in obtaining official approval of the developments. Public participation will be of particular interest. Since this was stimulated largely by the potential health and safety impacts, these will be given particular emphasis, not so much as issues in their own right but more in terms of the legitimacy of the mechanisms through which they were addressed at various stages in the decision process.

The period under consideration in ths report covers the three years between July 1976, when initial interest in a site at Mossmorran-Braefoot Bay was expressed, until August 1979, when approval of applications for gas facilities on this site was officially announced. The facilities are required in connection with oil and gas production from the UK sector of the North Sea, and the site chosen, on a relatively unspoiled stretch of the Forth Estuary, meant that the decision itself would impose a judgment over a number of classic conflicts: health and safety costs and economic benefits; local losses against national and regional benefits; differences in party self-interests between and within sections of the public, public authorities and private industries. An indication of the main course of events during the decision period will set the bearings for the story which unfolds in the remainder of the report.

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Resident-led action group seeking redress from the long-term social, health and environmental impacts from the Mossmorran facilities in Central Fife operated by ExxonMobil (Fife Ethylene Plant) and Shell (Fife NGL).


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