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A SENIOR Fife Councillor has denied that Fife Council has refused to appear on a panel at a meeting to consider what COP26 means for Mossmorran.
Independent Councillor Linda Holt, a board member of the Mossmorran Action Group, wrote an open letter to Environmental sub-committee Convener, Councillor Ross Vettraino urging him to reconsider a decision not to sent a local authority representative to this evening’s event.
However Cllr Vettraino said no formal approach had been made and, therefore, no decision whether to attend had been taken.
Cllr Holt said the event, organised by the Mossmorran Action Group and the Actions Speak Louder than Words Group, would allow stakeholders to consider what COP26 means for Mossmorran and discuss the issues with members of the affected communities.
“It is extremely disappointing that Fife Council has chosen not to take up this opportunity. Cllr Ross tells me that Fife Council is following SEPA’s lead here who have also refused to come along,” she said.
“SEPA’s decision is, in my view, misguided because discussion will range more broadly than COP26 and it is an opportunity – the first SEPA will have had since March 2020 – to interact face to face with the local community.
“The same reasoning, of course, applies to Fife Council and its activities as far as Mossmorran is concerned: communication is and has been poor and the Liaison Committee is still barely known about.
“Unlike SEPA, Fife Council also has a political role as evidenced by the two motions the Council passed on Mossmorran, its declaration of a Climate Emergency and the motion on COP26 at the last full council meeting.
“This motion calls for “local leadership” to be demonstrated across Fife in addressing the issues raised by COP26. In the light of these motions, it beggars belief that Fife Council declines to appear at a public panel event to discuss the significance of COP26 for Mossmorran.”
However Cllr Verraino said no decision had been taken either way by the council.
“I have no idea if David Ross said that but the council has made no such decision to my knowledge,” he said. “If the council has made a decision, it would be minuted.
“Linda Holt has little understanding of what the governance is in the council. No individual elected member has any authority to change any decision that the council has made.”
Council co-leader, Councillor David Ross, accused Cllr Holt of putting “considerable spin” on the issue.
He said she had contacted him asking if he would approach chief environmental officer Nigel Kerr about appearing on the panel however, after checking SEPA’s position, he said it would not be appropriate to appear but offered to add to a briefing being provided by SEPA.
“I phoned her back and suggested that if she wanted formal Fife Council representative, she should approach Ross Vettraino as the convener,” he said.
“I certainly thought her approach to me was informal and now she is spinning it as if we have rejected an approach.”
SEPA Head of Environmental Performance Chris Daily said they were “committed to openly communicating” about their regulation of the Mossmorran complex and welcomed all opportunities to engage with the communities.
However he said that in this instance, the focus of the meeting was to be on COP26 and energy policy.
He added: “We welcome all future invitations to discuss our regulation and will continue to provide updates on our ongoing work to drive investment and improvements at the complex and hold both operators to account.”