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CLIMATE activists and local residents held a protest outside of Mossmorran petrochemical plant in a bid to have their voices heard over pollution in the area.
Around 150 protesters, a mix of activists from climate groups including Greenpeace and local residents from the surrounding area in Fife, took their calls for the site to be shut down to the plant’s front door.
Mossmorran, on the outskirts of Cowdenbeath and operated by Shell and ExxonMobil, has repeatedly breached environmental regulations and has been criticised for burning excess gas which has led to light pollution, noise pollution and even tremors.
The local community, backed by Climate Camp Scotland, are determined to have their voices heard, and as part of a two-day climate protest camp they pitched up at Mossmorran’s main gates at 12pm on Sunday.
READ MORE: Mossmorran: Climate camp protest planned at Fife petrochemical complex
Activists heard from local protesters, artists and the Scottish Green’s MSP Maggie Chapman who said the ultimate goal of the protest is to get Mossmorran closed down.
Chapman said: “There are a whole range of issues that local communities who live in the shadow of Mossmorran have been dealing with for decades, the light pollution from the flaring is one obvious one, but there’s also the very poor air quality that comes from being so close to such a plant, and people have experienced earth tremors and all of these kinds of things.
— Maggie Chapman MSP (@MaggieChapman) August 1, 2021
“I think there have been two explosions at the plant that the Health and Safety Executive have condemened as catastrophic, and it’s these kinds of things that communities in the shadow of Mossmorran have had to deal with.
“In many ways this is the front line of environmental injustice that we see from climate polluting industries in Scotland.”
Flaring at the Mossmorran plant can sometimes be seen as far away as Edinburgh
Asked what the group hoped to achieve from the weekend of protesting, Chapman told the National: “The ultimate goal is to close Mossmorran, we know as a site it has been very badly run.
“We know that oil and gas has to be an industry of the past, and what we want to see is genuine investment in a just transition for the workers at Mossmorran and across Scotland.
“The Fife community has borne the brunt of the rise and fall of the carbon economy, we know that in the 80s it was Fife communities that suffered the most from the closing of the coal mines, because there was no plan.
“There was no plan to generate jobs or invest in any kind of economic infrastructure post mining, we cannot afford to see that happen again.”
— Climate Camp Scotland (@ScotClimateCamp) August 1, 2021
READ MORE: Cambo oil field: What does it mean for climate targets?
Activists also said they targetted Mossmorran as it is Scotland’s third largest polluter.
They want the Government to shut down the plant, and have called for a just transition to be brought forward to create green jobs for the workers there.
Jemma Kettlewell, spokesperson for local campaign group Actions Speak Louder Than Words (ASLTW), told BBC Scotland that the community are desperate to be listened to.
She said: “What we’re hoping to achieve today is really to get our voices heard. Communities in Fife have been impacted by the flaring, the pollution that comes from Mossmorran, but unfortunately the Scottish Government SEPA have really not been listening.
Activists and locals are staging a weekend long protest to raise awareness
“There’s a lot of people in this community that suffer from severe health impacts, with COP-26 coming up in November we really need to think about how we as a country, Scotland, can try and achieve and not keep missing our climate targets.
“For the third year in a row Scotland has been painting itself as a climate leader, yet has missed its climate targets.”
The Mossmorran plant was restarted in June after a £140 million upgrade to reduce the frequency of flaring.
READ MORE: Cambo oil field: Edinburgh activists block UK Government building
Activists say the flaring leads to light and noise pollution, and even tremors
The burning of excess gas lights up the sky and can sometimes be seen as far away as Edinburgh.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) previously sought a prosecution after six days of flaring by the firm. They received 900 complaints from the public.
Kettlewell added: “This sort of thing just reduces flaring, so you’ve got reduced flares, reduced noise pollution and reduced light pollution, but it’s still just a cosmetic thing. It’s not changing anything about the pollution from gas and other polluters that are released into the air.
“We’ve really got to listen to what the communities are saying, Exxon and Shell, they’re powerful and we know they are climate criminals.”
A spokesperson for ExxonMobil said: ‘’Independent analysis stretching back over three decades from SEPA and Fife Council conclude that there are no local air quality issues associated with operations at Mossmorran.
‘’Furthermore, we are committed to making our operations much quieter and less visible through significant investment at FEP, including a recently-completed £140m plant upgrade, a 14-step flaring reduction plan and an investment in an Enclosed Ground Flare, which alone will reduce elevated flaring by at least 98% when it becomes operational next year.
‘’The Mossmorran facility is integral to Scotland’s energy supply, meeting the needs of communities nationwide. Furthermore, FEP directly supports the manufacturing supply chain for important products such as medical supplies, electric vehicle parts and food packaging.’’