Watt’s delight as council agrees to seek impact study – Auto Republish

COWDENBEATH councillor Darren Watt has urged the people of the area to go next Friday’s public meeting and air their experiences from the week long flaring episode which occurred at the Fife Ethylene Plant starting on Easter Sunday.

The meeting, at Lochgelly Town Hall, starting at 7pm, has been called by the Mossmorran Action Group following the week of events which saw flaring over six days and loud noise emanating from the plant, south of Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly, following a breakdown in the plant’s system.

With the breakdown affecting the steam production in the flare stack Easter Sunday’s flaring saw billowing black smoke wafting across the area and led to Councillor Watt bringing a motion to Fife Council on the issue.

At Thursday’s Fife Council meeting, the Conservative Councillor for the Cowdenbeath Ward, urged fellow councillors to back his motion calling on the local authority to press the Scottish Government to commission an independent expert study of the environmental, social and health impacts on the surrounding communities of the operations of Shell’s Fife NGL Plant and ExxonMobil’s FEP at Mossmorran.

The motion was backed by Mossmorran Action Group and nearly 200 individuals emailed all of Fife’s Councillors encouraging them to support the motion.

Both the SNP and Labour each tabled an amendment on the day.

Cllr Watt said: “I firstly want to thank each and every person who took the time to email my colleagues and I, asking us to vote for the motion. “This was unprecedented and it was great to see local people engaging with local politics, especially at a time when trust and faith in politicians is at a new low.”

He added: “I wasn’t disappointed to see amendments tabled as councillors from both the SNP and Labour as some councillors had publicly stated they supported the motion, however, felt it could be strengthened.

“Labour’s amendment did just that. Not only did they agree with the motion but added more text which called on more robust and immediate action. I was, however, particularly disappointed with the SNP’s amendment as it made no reference to the original motion and sought to control any investigation at Council level. This move not only patronised and insulted concerned residents but proved how out-of-touch they really are with the whole situation.”

Following a lengthy debate, it was agreed by Councillor Watt and Labour’s Councillor David Ross to co-join the motion and Labour’s amendment, however, just before the vote, in a rare move, Kirkcaldy Conservative Councillor, Richard Watt, asked the Depute Provost for a roll-call vote. This was accepted by the vast majority of councillors in the chamber and their names were subsequently read out in alphabetical order. Each councillor had to state whether they supported the co-joined motion or the SNP (second) amendment. Following the votes and count, the co-joined motion was carried by 32 votes to 23.

Darren Watt said: “Although I was saddened that we didn’t achieve full cross-party agreement, I am delighted we have made a significant step and we are now closer to a fully independent impact study.

“I very much hope we see much more progress in the coming weeks and months, however, my attention is now focussed on next week’s public meeting.

“This will be a great opportunity for residents to voice their fears and concerns, and directly question the companies, agencies and authorities. I will certainly be in attendance and I hope other local Councillors, MSPs and MPs make the effort too.”

Mossmorran Action Group will be hosting the public meeting at Lochgelly Town Hall, Bank Street, Lochgelly on Friday May 17 from 7-9pm. ExxonMobil, Shell, SEPA, Fife Council, NHS and local politicians are among those invited by the group.

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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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