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A PEACEFUL protest took place at the Mossmorran petrochemical plant on Saturday morning following recent flaring activity.
Over thirty individuals turned out at the gates about what protesters described as “its continued operation and the lack of government action to control its impacts or shut it down”.
The protest was organised by Mary Bain Lockhart and Rebecca Davies, local residents who feel that “mass protest and direct action is now the only way of getting through to the Scottish Government”.
Three councillors attended the protest including the Labour co-leader of Fife Council David Ross. Extinction Rebellion Dunfermline and Extinction Rebellion Fife also joined in with residents from Mossmorran’s surrounding areas.
A solidarity protest by ClimateCampScotland took place simultaneously at Holyrood.
James Glen, chair of Mossmorran Action Group, said: “We only expected a handful of people thanks to Covid and the extremely short notice, so we were blown away by the show of support and solidarity. Loads of passing vehicles hooted support.
“The protest today marks a watershed moment: people’s patience has finally run out with the Mossmorran operators and the politicians and regulators who are supposed to keep the plant safe.
“After yet another bout of extreme emergency flaring caused by component failure, residents who have been forced to live with the disturbance, pollution and health impacts for decades have lost faith in SEPA and the Scottish Government. Their only option now is mass protest and direct action.”
Local SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing was invited but couldn’t attend, while Neale Hanvey did not respond to the invitation, according to the protest group.
A spokesperson for the group said: “The Scottish Government continues to put off commissioning an independent inquiry into the health, social and environmental impacts.
“SEPA is endlessly investigating but the plant still flares with impunity; HSE which is investigating boiler explosions from over a year ago still hasn’t reported.
“Despite a cross-party call, the Scottish Government is refusing to set up a Just Transition board for Mossmorran, even though Grangemouth has been granted one.
“It’s time Mossmorran’s fenceline communities were listened to and the Scottish Governement stopped protecting Exxon. Until that happens, these protests will continue, and they will grow.”
Rebecca Davies, one of the original objectors to plans for Mossmorran in the late 70s, said: “I was so incensed recently after the recent chronic flaring that I decided to speak up against this monstrous corporation.
“Time for action has now become an imperative. As long as I live I will shout out loudly for the closure of what must now be criminal activity by a corporation that gets away with causing noise and air pollution and ill health amongst the residents within a 20 mile radius of the plant and beyond.
“It is very frightening and terrifying for those living on the doorstep of the site. Our worst fears about this plant being constructed in the first place have now become a reality.
“Compressor failures, breaks in pipes etc., are symptomatic of a plant that’s shelf life has expired. No amount of compensation can make up for the damage caused by Exxon / Shell to this area.”
An ExxonMobil response said: “‘’While we respect the right to peaceful protest, our priority will always be the safety of our employees and communities.
‘’We want to be a good neighbour to our host communities, and that is something more than 200 employees, and many more valued contractors, work hard to achieve every day.
‘’We understand the frustration that is caused by the use of our flare, and our commitment to reducing frequency is underlined by an additional £140 million investment in key infrastructure and new technologies due to begin in April.
‘’While already one of the most modern plants of its kind in Europe, we always look for ways to improve reliability through continued maintenance and investment.
‘’The Mossmorran facility is an integral part of Scotland’s energy supply, meeting the needs of homes and businesses nationwide. Furthermore, Fife Ethylene Plant directly supports the manufacturing supply chain for important products such as medical supplies and food packaging.’’