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THE Mossmorran Action Group is concerned that the Scottish Government is ‘going easy’ on the operators at the Mossmorran petro-chemical complex.
Green MSP Mark Ruskell asked in the Scottish Parliament: “What discussions has the Government had with the operators of the Ethylene Plant at regarding the climate emergency and the need for a just transition.”
Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse replied: “I met representatives of ExxonMobil on September 12 to discuss its £140 million investment through 2019 and 2020, which will significantly improve the site’s efficiency, sustainability and environmental performance.
“The investment will support employment opportunities and, by implementing necessary infrastructure improvements, it will support the transition towards a net zero emissions economy in a way that is consistent with a just transition. Alongside reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we expect that the investment will help to address key issues identified by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the local community through lowering the frequency and impact of flaring, as well as associated issues such as noise pollution.
“I have had assurances that a considerable part of ExxonMobil’s investment will go towards improving the efficiency of the plant, including its energy efficiency; reducing greenhouse gas emissions from flaring; and improving the air quality in and around the area that is served by the plant”.
But James Glen, chair of Mossmorran Action Group, commented: “Scottish Government Ministers, from Nicola Sturgeon downwards, have consistently refused to meet residents affected by Mossmorran’s operations and boycotted public meetings where concerns have been aired. Their excuse is that such meetings could compromise possible enforcement action by SEPA.
“Now we learn that there have been meetings between ExxonMobil and Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse who went on the record on in Parliament, expressing the hope that ‘SEPA will not be required to use its enforcement powers’.
“If this isn’t a direct attempt to pressurise SEPA to go easy on ExxonMobil in the interests of the petrochemical industry, I don’t know what is.
“Communities around Mossmorran, whose suffering the Scottish Government has blanked for years, will now be wondering whose side their Government is on.”