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SCOTLAND’S First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon fully understands the ‘frustration and anger’ of the people of the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area over last weekend’s unplanned flaring by the Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran and will ‘consider all options’ on the way ahead.
At First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday,Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing raised the issue of unplanned flaring at the ExxonMobil plant at Mossmorran, saying: “The First Minister will be aware of the further unplanned flaring at Mossmorran resulting in over 56 hours of hell for my constituents, who are not just fed up and worried, but are increasingly very angry.
“For the future, a Just Transition for Mossmorran will be essential, but dealing with the here and now, can I urge the FM to have the Scottish Government consider all available options to bring such blatant disregard by the operator for the interests of the local community to an end”.
In reply, the First Minister said: “Firstly, can I say I completely understand the community concerns in relation to this issue and I understand the frustration and the anger that people in the local community will feel, and I can hear it expressed on their behalf by Annabelle Ewing today. It is entirely understandable, and, in my view, it is entirely legitimate.
“SEPA is currently looking at the cause of the flaring and how it was managed over the full duration of the incident. The concerns locally are clear and well understood, both by Government and regulators. And, of course, the Crown Office is currently considering a report submitted by SEPA into a previous incident of flaring and I won’t say any more about that for obvious reasons, but I hope it is an indication of the seriousness with which SEPA is treating flaring incidents at the plant.
“That is what is underway but I will end by giving Annabelle Ewing an assurance that, of course, we will continue to consider all options and be open to discussing them with her on behalf of her constituents.”
Speaking later, Ms Ewing welcomed the First Minister’s response, saying: “It was really pleasing to hear such strong words of support for the local community’s feelings about this issue from the First Minister who made it absolutely clear, in response to my question, that the local anger about continued unplanned flaring is both understandable and legitimate.
“Her assurance that all options are being considered was very welcome and I look forward to taking these discussions further so that, working together, we can secure a resolution to a matter that has been plaguing my constituents for far too long.”
Scottish Green Environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, was pleased that Ms Sturgeon will raise the massive number of
Mark Ruskell said: “I’m glad that the voices of thousands who have raised concerns has finally been heard. The First Minister has said she will look into the possibility of an independent inquiry and how to give a secure future for workers at the plant.
“I look forward to progress on this. It’s clear this fossil fuel relic cannot provide long-term jobs in the future. Communities in Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath need a short-term end to the pollution and a long-term plan to invest in alternative and future-proofed jobs for this community.”
The FEP manager Jacob McAlister, said last week that the breakdown had been caused by a compressor fault and had nothing to do with the exceptionally wet weather. He also thanked the public for their patience during the flaring.