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FIFE Council has repeated its call on the Scottish Government to set up a group looking at the future of the Mossmorran plant.
A motion from Councillor Mary Lockhart was agreed at a meeting of Fife Council on Thursday.
It asked that a request be made to the government for the establishment of a Just Transition Group and agreed that the local authority would look into forming its own if their request was unsuccessful.
The move came after unscheduled flaring last week when up to 13,800 tonnes of CO2 was emitted from the Shell Exxon Plant over a two day period which led to protests outside the site.
The motion stated: “Council reaffirms its call to the Scottish Government to commission an Inquiry into the Health and Social Impacts of operations at both Mossmorran plants: and calls on the Scottish Government to establish a Just Transition Board to examine all options for the short, medium and long term future of the plants, including phased decommissioning.
“In the event that, despite these continued operational failures at the plant, the Scottish Government continues to refuse to act, Council will explore setting up a Just Transition Board of its own.”
Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Lockhart said: “As a council, our first responsibility is for the safety and health and wellbeing of the people of Fife. “We cannot sit by as Exxon seeks extension after extension. That is why if the Scottish Government continues to decline to set up for Mossmorran the joint transmission board equivalent to that established at Grangemouth, Fife Council will move to establish our own.”
An amendment to the motion was put forward by Cllr Ross Vettraino which also called for Fife Council and NHS Fife to carry out a further report into the impact of the plant however 39 councillors voted to go for the original motion compared to 26 who wanted the alternative proposal.
Cllr Bill Porteous called into question the need for another report, branding environmental watchdog SEPA as a “chocolate soldier”.
“First of all thanks to the chair and committee of the Mossmorran action group – they have pushed hard and got us debating this topic on many occasions,” he said.
“Sepa have failed time and time again to take proper action. This is the body that should be protecting us. I feel Sepa is nothing more than a chocolate soldier.”
Cllr Gary Guichan said the amendment appeared to be “letting the Scottish Government off the hook in terms of any enquiry”.
Councillor David Ross backed the “continued call” for the Scottish Government to commission an enquiry. “It is the Scottish Government, the company, Sepa who are not delivering. We should not stop asking them to live up to what we think they should be doing.
“I think we should continue to ask and just putting it off again is not the best way to proceed and is letting down our constituents on this.”
The council’s backing for action was welcomed by Green MSP Mark Ruskell. He said: “I’m delighted councillors have backed my calls for a just transition board for the plant, and will take the initiative themselves in light of the glaring lack of responsibility from the Scottish Government on this issue.”
Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing said she has written once more to the Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, asking that Mossmorran receives the same treatment as has been outlined for Grangemouth as they look to transition from dependence on fossil fuels.
“There is no doubt that the Just Transition programme will be a key aspect of helping industry take the necessary steps for decarbonising the Scottish economy and in planning for Scotland’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy,” she said.
Neale Hanvey MP said he would work to help find a postive resolution.
“I will continue to work constructively with the operators, regulators, and the community to make sure Mossmorran plays a positive role now and in the future as we begin to realise Fife’s potential as the beating heart of Scotland’s energy industry.,” he added.