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A report for Fife’s Cabinet Committee suggested removing the requirement, but members decided it was “too soon.”
The Mossmorran complex lies near Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly, and the facility consists of two neighbouring gas plants – Fife Natural Gas Liquids plant operated by Shell UK Limited, and Fife Ethylene Plant operated by ExxonMobil Chemical Limited.
The annual reports were required following a significant unplanned flaring event in April 2019 that generated council scrutiny and public concern. A series of public meetings at that time further highlighted a lack of trust in operations and regulation at the site.
However, since then the local authority says vast improvements have been made with both operators making “significant investments.” The upgrades have included a £140 million project by ExxonMobil to improve reliability and reduce the need for flaring. A new multi-million pound ground flare is now in operation, and it is designed to significantly reduce the light, noise, and vibration sometimes associated with flares.
Council officers said the improvements have culminated in less unplanned flaring events and a reduction in complaints in the last few years. SEPA has also installed new air quality monitoring equipment to monitor more pollutants across a greater geographic area.
Councillor Lesley Backhouse (SNP for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy) agreed that improvements have been made.
“Mossmorran is within my ward, and it is very good at communicating. I regularly receive two or three emails a month just to let me know what’s happening. The communication channels are there,” she said.
However, council majority leader David Ross was hesitant to scrap the annual report, and suggested sending it to area committees.
“Everyone recognises the huge improvements, but this is a preventative measure. It is a bit quick to remove the annual report,” he said.
Councillor John Beare (SNP for Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch) agreed. Cllr Beare’s amendment to extend the distribution of the report to all elected members was accepted.
Moving forward, the annual report will continue to be disseminated to council members.