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A FIFE MSP has warned that using drones is no substitute for “boots on the ground” when it comes to monitoring Mossmorran.
Mark Ruskell, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife for the Scottish Green Party, has urged SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) not to underestimate the importance of site visits.
SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn confirmed at the Scottish Parliament’s environment committee last week that the watchdog was looking at using drones to monitor activity at Mossmorran, alongside other forms of remote scrutiny.
Mr Ruskell responded: “I welcome any investment by SEPA which improves monitoring and oversight at Mossmorran, but the value of boots on the ground mustn’t be forgotten.
“Remote monitoring has its place, but some issues need to be experienced in the same way that those living in afflicted communities around the plant experience them.”
The MSP stated that residents living near the plant recently complained of “significant noise and smell in the vicinity of the site”.
Operators Shell UK and ExxonMobil were both given final warnings in April 2018 after unplanned flaring, but there have been incidents since then. The Times recently reported that SEPA were to seek legal action over “unacceptable flaring” at Mossmorran in April last year.
More than 900 complaints were made after the incident, which saw unplanned flaring over a seven-day period and thick, black smoke, which was visible for miles, belching from the flue stack.
ExxonMobil said they had “co-operated openly and constructively” with SEPA over that period of flaring.
Mr Ruskell concluded: “As SEPA prepares its case against ExxonMobil I would urge all local residents to continue to make their concerns known. It’s taken us a long time to get to this point, but pressure from the community has been a driving force and shouldn’t relent now.”