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ATTEMPTS to “build bridges” between ExxonMobil and the local community has been rejected by the Mossmorran Action Group.
Fife Councillors were updated on a recent meeting with the administration’s co-leaders and the new plant manager Martin Burrell at their meeting on Thursday.
Councillors David Ross and David Alexander said they welcomed the recent engagement.
“Fife Council’s Co-Leaders advised that they recognised the importance for jobs and suppliers in Fife arising from the plant and would wish to understand the investments planned to address community concerns regarding flaring and impacts to communities,” they stated. “Issues regarding the long term future of the plant were also discussed.
“The company offered to attend a future meeting of the Council’s Environment and Protective Services Subcommittee in early 2021, which was welcomed by the Council
“The company further welcomed an opportunity for the Council to facilitate linkages to community groups currently not in dialogue with the plant management.
“It was noted that Shell had attended a range of community meetings to address concerns, and this had been appreciated by affected communities. We agreed to continue dialogue regarding contributions to the community.”
However councillor Linda Holt, a board member of the Mossmorran Action Group, was not impressed by the promises.
“We have discussed the offer from Fife Council and we don’t think a private meeting with Exxon would be appropriate given that Exxon has consistently refused to come to public meetings,” she said.
“We cannot have a private meeting until they come to a public meeting. If there is anything that the co-leaders can do to facilitate a public meeting, it would be very pleasing.”
Following requests from Cllr Holt for updates on previous council motions regarding Mossmorran, Cllr Ross said they would look at producing a more detailed briefing.
“I am sorry you are not able to respond to our attempt to get some dialogue going,” he said. “I saw that as an opportunity to build bridges and move forward.
“If you are not happy with that, that is fine and I can understand your reasons.”
Cllr Alexander added: “This is a new plant manager who admitted that efficiency had not been as good as it should have been. This was an ideal chance for everybody to get together.
“It was a good meeting and we will be meeting them again. It is a good opportunity to start talking.”
An ExxonMobil spokesperson said they were “disappointed” that the Mossmorran Action Group had declined their “further offer of constructive dialogue.”
He said: “We appreciate the efforts of Cllr Ross in attempting to secure a meeting and our offer remains open.
“Fife Ethylene Plant management have, in fact, attended a number of public meetings through elected community councils – indeed, the chair of MAG and other key members attended some of these meetings in person.
“When COVID restrictions allow us to do so, we will be keen to resume this programme of meetings as we want to give our host communities the opportunity to directly engage us on the issues of importance for them.’’